Male tufted ducks closely resemble their counterparts in ring-necked ducks. The principle difference is the tuft of feathers that fall behind the head. In addition, the sides are white rather than gray, the bill lacks a white margin at the base, and in flight a white stripe at the back of the inner wing is displayed. The female tufted duck is similar in appearance to female scaup, but is black-brown with a smaller patch of white at the base of the bill. At the back of the head, there is a small protuberance of feathers, which is much smaller than the males.
Their breeding habitat is close to marshes and lakes with plenty of vegetation to conceal the nest. They are also found on coastal lagoons, the seashore, and sheltered ponds.
This duck has a wide distribution in northern Eurasia, from Iceland to Kamchatka and between 45°N and 70°N. European populations winter southwards to North Africa, and only a small number of individuals reach sub-Saharan Africa. The birds of the south-west of the distribution area seem to be sedentary however. In the European Union the main wintering grounds are centred on the Baltic Sea, the Netherlands and the lakes of Central Europe. The population of north-western Europe is totalling 1000000 individuals. The population of Central Europe, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean is estimated at 600000 individuals. Both populations have undergone a definite increase during the last decades
Tufted ducks dive to feed on roots, seeds, and buds of aquatic plants and clams, snails, aquatic insects, and sometimes amphibians and small fishes. They also skim flies and duckweeds on the water surface.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 2,700,000-4,100,000 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]
Tufted ducks breed across Eurasia from Iceland and the British Isles east across Russia and Siberia to the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Commander Islands. There are no breeding records of tufted ducks in North America. Female tufted ducks nest on islands in lakes or on sloped banks of small wetlands in reeds, tufts of grass, or under bushes close to water and lay an average of 9 eggs.
Partially migratory; winters Central and NE Europe (where chiefly sedentary), Mediterranean basin, N and sub-Saharan Africa, SW USSR, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, SE Asia (to Philippines) and Japan. Occasionally in Alaska and North America (mainly W Coast)
- spanwidth min.: 65 cm
- spanwidth max.: 72 cm
- size min.: 40 cm
- size max.: 47 cm
- incubation min.: 23 days
- incubation max.: 28 days
- fledging min.: 45 days
- fledging max.: 50 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 8
- eggs max.: 15
- Conservation Status