Aythya ferina (Linnaeus, 1758) PO POCHA 1980
Family: Anseriformes > Anatidae

Pochard, Edmund Fellowes

Pochard are found on waterbodies across the UK that are deep enough to accommodate their diving behaviour in search of food.

The Pochard is a scarce breeding bird in the UK, with around 700 pairs thought to breed here and mostly in England. During the winter months this small population is swollen by birds escaping freezing conditions on the Continent, which can see UK Pochard numbers climb as high as 30,000 individuals.

The Wetland Bird Survey shows a declining trend in numbers, that is thought to be partly driven by milder winters keeping more waterbodies ice free on the Continent. This ensures feeding opportunities closer to the Pochard breeding areas and makes a crossing of the North Sea unnecessary for many.


Pochard identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Pochard.

related video

Identifying diving ducks

Tufted Duck by Edwyn Anderton

Dabbling ducks are so familiar, but there is also a group of common ducks that actively dive on freshwater for food. One or other is likely to be encountered on still or moving freshwater or even at sea so let this workshop help you to decide which diving duck you are seeing.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Pochard, provided by xeno-canto contributors.


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Numbers of breeding Pochard have remained relatively stable, with some fluctuations, at around 600–800 pairs, for the ten years to 2019 following a strong increase since it was first monitored by the RBBP in 1986 (Eaton et al. 2021). However, this population increase contrasts with a range contraction in the UK, with a 39% decrease in the number of occupied squares since the 1968–72 Breeding Atlas (Balmer et al. 2013). Widespread declines and range losses have occurred in Europe and the species is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (BirdLife International 2021).


The winter distribution of the Pochard is concentrated in lowland areas, where waterbodies have high nutrient status, and the species is generally absent from the acidic, nutrient-poor waterbodies of the uplands. Rich lakes are also preferred for breeding and the map shows the concentration of breeding birds in eastern lowland areas of England.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


There has been a 21% contraction in winter range in Britain & Ireland since the 1981–84 Winter Atlas. The loss is most prominent in Ireland, reflecting a long-term decline in the wintering population.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Pochards are present throughout the year; there is a small breeding population and the species is most likely to be seen in winter.

Weekly occurence of Pochard from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Pochard ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Pochard, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Lach-dhearg-cheannach
Welsh: Hwyaden Bengoch
Catalan: morell cap-roig
Czech: polák velký
Danish: Taffeland
Dutch: Tafeleend
Estonian: punapea-vart
Finnish: punasotka
French: Fuligule milouin
German: Tafelente
Hungarian: barátréce
Icelandic: Skutulönd
Irish: Póiseard
Italian: Moriglione
Latvian: brunkaklis, raudava
Lithuanian: rudagalve antis
Norwegian: Taffeland
Polish: glowienka (zwyczajna)
Portuguese: zarro
Slovak: chochlacka sivá
Slovenian: sivka
Spanish: Porrón europeo
Swedish: brunand
Folkname: Red-headed/Blue Poker


Interpretation and scientific publications about Pochard from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

Increases in Pochard numbers in western Europe in the twentieth century are possibly linked to the eutrophication of water bodies which resulted in increased availability of food and cover (Fox et al. 2016). Subsequent widespread declines in Europe may have been caused by a number of factors, among which are abandonment of fish farming and declines in water quality, hyper-eutrophication, increases in the abundance of fish species which compete for food resources, increased predation from non-native species such as mink, and losses of gull colonies (which help improve breeding productivity by providing protection from predators) (Fox et al. 2016, Mischenko et al. 2020). However, the stable trend in the UK suggests that the factors affecting the species in Europe are currently not a significant issue here and it remains unclear what are the main drivers of population trends in the UK.

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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