Ferruginous duck -- 白眼潜鸭 (Aythya nyroca)

Male ferruginous duck on water
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Ferruginous duck fact file

Ferruginous duck description

GenusAythya (1)

Males of this diving duck species are a deep russet brown with a white triangular patch under the tail and a white belly. The edges of the wings are white, with this colouring visible only in flight. Females and juveniles are similarly patterned, but tend to be a duller brown, with no hint of red. The beak is short, giving the peaked head a particularly triangular appearance. The white eyes stand out from the dark feathers on the head (7).

Also known as
ferruginous pochard, white-eyed pochard.
Fuligule nyroca.
Porrón Pardo.
Length: 38 - 42 cm (2)

Ferruginous duck biology

The ferruginous duck breeds between April and June, either in single pairs or loose groups. The nest usually consists of a low platform of reeds and other vegetation, built on the ground, in dense reeds, or on a floating mat of vegetation. Between 7 and 10 eggs are laid, and are incubated by the female alone for 25 to 28 days. The young ducks fledge at around 55 to 60 days, and reach sexual maturity at one year (9) (10). The species is generally migratory, with most birds leaving the breeding grounds between August and October, and returning again from early March (2) (9).

The ferruginous duck is usually found singly or in small groups, although larger groups often form on the wintering grounds or during the moult. Feeding takes place by dabbling at the surface, swimming with the head submerged, upending, or diving, and the diet consists of seeds, aquatic plants, aquatic invertebrates, small fish, and amphibians (2) (9).


Ferruginous duck range

Four main populations of the ferruginous duck are recognised, which breed in southwestern Asia, central Europe, eastern Europe, and north Africa. The wintering range overlaps with the breeding range, extending into the Middle East, north-east and west Africa and Southeast Asia to Thailand (2). Vagrants are recorded widely through Europe to the United Kingdom and to the Seychelles (8).


Ferruginous duck habitat

This species both breeds and winters on shallow lakes, marshes and pools with ample vegetation, generally avoiding large open areas of water (7) (9).


Ferruginous duck status

The ferruginous duck is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1). It is also listed on Appendices I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (3), Appendix III of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (4), Annex I of the EC Birds Directive (5), and Annex 2 of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (6).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Ferruginous duck threats

Although protected by law, the ferruginous duck is still excessively hunted due to misidentification or ignorance of the law, and also sometimes becomes accidentally entangled in fishing nets. It is also at risk from habitat loss as wetland habitats are drained for agriculture, and from habitat degradation, for example through siltation and the loss of emergent vegetation (2) (9).


Ferruginous duck conservation

A European Action Plan was published for the ferruginous duck in 1997 (9), and an International Single Species Action Plan has also been developed under the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (10). The species is fully protected by law in a number of countries, and is protected from hunting in some others. Bulgaria plans to restore the habitat of two key breeding sites on the Danube, and has received funding for this purpose (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Find out more

For further information on the ferruginous duck see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:



Authenticated (03/09/10) by Dr H. Glyn Young, Conservation Biologist, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.



The act of incubating eggs; that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
Found occasionally outside normal range.


  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2010)
  2. BirdLife International (January, 2010)
  3. Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (April, 2008)
  4. Council of Europe: Bern Convention (March, 2005)
  5. EC Birds Directive (March, 2005)
  6. Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (March, 2005)
  7. Bird Guides (March, 2005)
  8. Kear, J. (2005) Ducks, Geese and Swans. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
  9. Callaghan, D.A. (1997) European Species Action Plan: Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca). The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, UK. Available at:
  10. Robinson, J.A. and Hughes, B. (2005) International Single Species Action Plan for the Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Version 5. AEWA and CMS, UK. Available at:

Image credit

Male ferruginous duck on water  
Male ferruginous duck on water

© Johan de Meester / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
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