Larger than a pochard, the male has an orange-brown head with a red beak and pale flanks. Females are brown with pale cheeks. In flight they show whitish primaries. Male has eclipse plumage, iris and bill red.
Female has characteristic pale sides of face and neck, contrasting with dark brown cap and hind neck, reminiscent of female Melanitta nigra, but paler with thinner, bicolored bill.
Juvenile very similar to female but darker with more mottled underparts.
Deep, large lakes and lagoons of fresh or brackish waters with abundant border vegetation, mainly inland in open country, sometimes near coast, on river deltas, estuaries and other marine habitats.
Netta rufina is a widespread but patchily distributed breeder in west-central and southern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is relatively small (
This duck has a fragmented distribution from the Iberian peninsula, southern and eastern Europe to Central Asia, mainly in steppe regions. The small population inhabiting north-western Europe (United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands) seems to originate from captive birds, and is currently increasing. The birds of south-western and western Europe are partly sedentary, partly migratory. They are totalling 25000 individuals, and seem to decline. The birds seen in Greece and southern Italy belong the population of the Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean regions, estimated at 50000 individuals.
Vegetarian. Green part of aquatic plants and grass , leaves, stems, roots and seeds. Occasionally aquatic invertebrates and insects.
Feeds by diving, upending head-dipping and dabbling .
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 350,000-440,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Eggs are laid from early May in central and southern Europe and from mid-May in southern Russia. The nest is build on the ground in dense vegetation, often deep in bush. Also in dense reed and rush beds. The nest is never far from water, occasionally on matted reeds in water. The nest is a small depression lined with grass, leaves, rushes, and down. Cup formed by turning movements of body.
Clutch size is 8-10, sometimes 6 up to 14. Dump nests by 2 or more females not infrequent, up to 39 eggs reported in one. Also nest parasitism often recorded, with eggs laid in nests of Mallard, Gadwall, and others. The incubation lasts 26-28 days. The young fledge after 45-50 days and are self feeding cared for by females. She will brood small ducklings at night.
When fledged the young are independent. First breeding at 1 year, though some probably not until 2
Migratory and partially migratory. Most or all leave breeding range north of 46°N; in west and central Europe, northernmost regular wintering places in Switzerland; infrequent winter records north and north-west Europe likely to include escapes. Rare but regular autumn migrant to south-east England c. 1952-62, occurrences apparently correlated with moult flocking in Netherlands. Main wintering areas include Spain and south France in west, Balkans, Turkey, and further east shores of Caspian.
Main autumn migration in west and east late October and early November; by December, most in winter quarters. Return movement February-March; most northern and eastern breeding areas re-occupied April and early May.
- spanwidth min.: 85 cm
- spanwidth max.: 90 cm
- size min.: 53 cm
- size max.: 57 cm
- incubation min.: 26 days
- incubation max.: 28 days
- fledging min.: 45 days
- fledging max.: 50 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 7
- eggs max.: 11
- Conservation Status