Pochard: characteristics, distribution and feeding

Pochard: characteristics, distribution and feeding

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The name is that of a bird that who knows how many times has flown over our heads without our being able to recognize it. The Pochard, in the scientific world known as Aythya ferina, is a medium-sized bird that also lives in Italy as in the rest of Europe and Asia.

Pochard: characteristics

There are no long descriptions of this bird that in our parts registers a scarce presence but not nothing, for now. It is described as an anseriform belonging to the Anatidae family. Let's see what these terms mean. The Anseiform they are birds with aquatic habits that are therefore equipped with a body suitable for swimming or in any case moving in the water.

This means that they typically show a broad structure with the lower area flatter, the neck should be medium to long while the short legs, and with strictly webbed fingers. The beak is thin and enlarged, sometimes with a small final hook, depending on the species. In addition, to retain the food particles present in the water, at the sides of the jaws there are sometimes filtering comb blades.

As a bird Anseiform, our Pochard is a excellent swimmer able to withstand even the low temperatures of the pools where it is diving. It has dense, water-repellent feathers and an insulating down jacket on the inside, while on the outside a colorful plumage.

The Pochard is a typical diving duck, it can weigh even more than a kilogram but there are smaller specimens, from 700 grams. It is half a meter long or a little less. There are differences between males and females, although not enormous. The female is of a uniform color that we can define as brown, sometimes tending to gray in the upper part. To interrupt this monotony, there is a lighter spot on the chest and one near the chin, and then a blue ring right on the beak. The wings are gray.

The male is more colorful. It has a black chest, light gray back and sides and a reddish or brown area on the head and neck. The wings are totally gray, without any white insert. Males can be confused with i Turkish fistioni but the latter have a red beak and a white patch on the wing. Speaking of beak, that of the Pochard, for both sexes, is black with a very barely visible blue stripe. The rump, the upper tail and the under tail are black.

A Turkish fistione, often confused with the pochard

The Pochard and the Aythyini

The Aythyini they are birds belonging to the Anatidae family that live mainly in the northern hemisphere although they can be found in every part of the world, in theory. They are all diving ducks, so called because they dive into the water to feed themselves, they dive and come out of the fluid with their prey. All but the species of the genus Netta, actually, which prefer to feed like other ducks.

The Aythyini they are gregarious animals, they stabilize above all where there are mirrors of fresh water or large estuaries where they can easily feed. Despite being at ease in the water, they also know how to fly and are resistant, even more so when you consider that with their very narrow wings, they must maintain a very fast beat rate compared to other ducks.

The take off it is a very demanding moment but they do not give up on gaining altitude. What the diving ducks these ducks are not particularly experienced, it is walking. They are a bit clumsy, they don't have a smooth gait and this is mainly due to the fact that the legs are positioned off-center. Further back, to facilitate the movements that they always do underwater, to get food.

Some species of these birds are migratory, the northern ones usually winter in countries with a more welcoming climate. Those who already live in comfortable areas do not migrate.

Pochard: where he lives

Italy, as we have said, is one of the countries in which this diving duck can live, but we cannot boast large numbers, quite the contrary. The areas in which he lives are those of Europe and Asia, but also of North Africa. In general, it looks for large open spaces, in particular rather deep freshwater bodies with little vegetation in order to better identify food substances. His rather "open" wingman attitude is curious. He groups with his own kind, and it forms numerous, but there is no problem if groupings of mixed ducks are created, with the presence of other aquatic birds, such as tufted duck and coots. This tolerance is not just about Pochard but it is found in most of the anatidae.

Pochard: what it eats

This diving duck it is omnivorous, he eats a bit of everything, whatever he finds underwater. This means that when it plunges into the freshwater mirror where it lives, it looks for larvae, insects, amphibians and crustaceans but also for seeds, roots and leaves of aquatic plants.

You may also be interested in our related article Goshawk: bird of prey.

Video: BTO Bird ID - Diving Ducks (July 2022).


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