Tufted Duck

Aythya fuligula (Linnaeus, 1758) TU TUFDU 2030
Family: Anseriformes > Anatidae

Tufted Duck, Sarah Kelman

Tufted Ducks, the male black-and-white and the female buff-brown, both with a characteristic 'tuft', can be seen diving on waterbodies across Britain & Ireland.

The UK has a small breeding population of around 18,000 pairs, but during the winter months these are joined by over 100,000 birds from as far away as central Russia. Wetland Bird Survey data show that Loch Leven and Loughs Neagh and Beg, in Scotland and Ireland respectively, regularly hold almost 10,000 Tufted Ducks each during the winter.

These characterful little ducks can also be found on lakes and ponds in the middle of our busiest towns and cities, where they can be observed diving for their favoured food of aquatic invertebrates and bivalve molluscs.

Exploring the trends for Tufted Duck

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Tufted Duck population is changing.

trends explorer


Tufted Duck identification is usually straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Tufted Duck.

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 Tufted Duck, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Flight call


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.

Browse training courses

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.



The colonisation of the UK by Tufted Ducks, which began in 1849, was aided by the spread of the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha, a non-native invasive species that had been introduced accidentally to Britain a few decades earlier. The long-term increase shown by WBS/WBBS, and the increase in range in Britain between the three atlas periods (Gibbons et al. 1993, Balmer et al. 2013) indicated that population expansion and in-filling of range were still occurring until at least the early 2000s, although WBS/WBBS data since around 2010 suggest a recent downturn, and the long-term data suggest breeding numbers are now similar to the mid-1970s. However, this recent trend contrasts with BBS data which show stability or perhaps an increase since 1994 in the UK as a whole. The species' winter trend in the UK since the 1960s, which includes many continental visitors, is also shallowly upward, but with little recent change (WeBS: Frost et al. 2020).

Moderate recent declines elsewhere in northern Europe resulted in a period on the amber list in the UK from 2009-15, but the species is now green listed once more (Eaton et al. 2015). In Finland, there was a highly significant difference between stable trends in oligotrophic wetlands and declines in eutrophic wetlands from 1986 to 2013 (WeBS: Lehikoinen et al. 2016).

Exploring the trends for Tufted Duck

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Tufted Duck population is changing.

trends explorer


The Tufted Duck is widespread in much of Britain during winter.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Breeding Season Habitats


Increases in breeding range are most noticeable along the northern and western margins of the 1968–72 range in Britain, with much infilling elsewhere.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Tufted Ducks are present year-round.

Weekly occurence of Tufted Duck 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 Tufted Duck 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 Tufted Duck, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Tufted Duck

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Tufted Duck population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Tufted Duck

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Tufted Duck population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


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

Gaelic: Lach-sgumanach
Welsh: Hwyaden Gopog
Catalan: morell de plomall
Czech: polák chocholacka
Danish: Troldand
Dutch: Kuifeend
Estonian: tuttvart
Finnish: tukkasotka
French: Fuligule morillon
German: Reiherente
Hungarian: kontyos réce
Icelandic: Skúfönd
Irish: Lacha Bhadánach
Italian: Moretta
Latvian: cekulpile
Lithuanian: kuoduotoji antis
Norwegian: Toppand
Polish: czernica
Portuguese: negrinha
Slovak: chochlacka vrkocatá
Slovenian: copasta crnica
Spanish: Porrón moñudo
Swedish: vigg


Interpretation and scientific publications about Tufted Duck from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

There is little good evidence available regarding the drivers of the breeding population increase in this species in the UK.

Further information on causes of change

No further information is available.

Information about conservation actions

Like other wildfowl, this species may benefit from the continuation of recent local management actions and wider policies which help to improve water quality and increase the availability of wetland habitats. More specifically, action to remove fish populations from gravel pits and other lakes may help improve breeding productivity for this species, by removing the competition from the fish which reduces the amount of invertebrate prey available to ducklings and adults (Giles 1994).

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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