Tufted Duck – Profile | Traits | Facts | Habitat | Diet | Breeding

Tufted duck

The tufted duck, scientific name Aythya fuligula is a small diving duck with a population of close to at least one million birds, present in northern Eurasia.

Tufted Duck Profile

The scientific name is derived from Ancient Greek aithuia an unidentified seabird talked about by authors together with Hesychius and Aristotle, and Latin, fuligo “soot” and gula “throat”.

A common diving duck of the Old World, the Eurasian counterpart of our Ring-necked Duck. Tufted Ducks wander to North America from each instruction, reaching the northeast from Europe and Iceland, reaching Alaska, and the Pacific Coast from Asia.

Although they’re turning up more usually, they’re nonetheless thought-about uncommon in all places besides western Alaska.

Geographic Range

Tufted geese are migratory birds with a broad geographic range that extends from Eurasia and Africa to the North American coasts. They had been traditionally native solely to the Palearctic Region.

However, over the past century, their range has expanded as a consequence of elevated availability of open water as a consequence of man-made adjustments in its habitat. Man-made lakes have offered these birds with very best feeding habitats.

During breeding months (May to early August), tufted geese inhabit most Palearctic areas such because the Faroe Islands, the British Isles, Norway, almost all of Europe, and Asia to eastern Siberia. The restrict of their range extends from about 70 degrees North and South latitudes to about 50 degrees north.

During the winter months (November to April), tufted geese may be present in southern Europe, northern Africa, southern Asia, and a few areas all through North America.

They may also be discovered sometimes all through areas of Madeira, Borneo, Liberia, the Seychelle, Pelew, Marianne, and Philippine Islands.

Tufted Duck Habitat

The habitat of tufted geese varies seasonally as a consequence of its migratory behavior. Throughout the breeding season, they’re most frequently present in shallow lakes.

They want shallow water starting from 3 to five m deep, with tall thick wetland vegetation, resembling reeds, for perching and preening.

Vegetation can be an essential thing about safety from the wind. During the breeding season, tufted geese usually keep away from lakes that are deeper than 15 m.

During winter months, they are often discovered typically in bigger bodies of open water resembling marshes, lakes, estuaries, and man-made ponds. During intervals of migration, they may also be present in and alongside rivers.

Tufted Duck Distribution

The tufted duck breeds all through temperate and northern Eurasia. It sometimes may be discovered as a winter customer alongside each coast of the United States and Canada.

It is believed to have expanded its conventional range with the elevated availability of open water as a consequence of gravel extraction, and the unfold of freshwater mussels, a favorite meals.

These geese are migratory in most of their range and overwinter within the milder south and west of Europe, southern Asia, and all year within the British Isles.

One individual has been reported as far south as Melbourne, Australia. They kind of massive flocks on open water in winter.


Their breeding habitat is near marshes and lakes with loads of vegetation to hide the nest. They are additionally discovered on coastal lagoons, shorelines, and sheltered ponds.

Tufted Duck Description

The adult male Tufted Duck is all black apart from white flanks and a blue-grey bill with gold-yellow eyes, together with a skinny crest on the back of its head. It has an apparent head tuft that offers the species its name.

The adult feminine is brown with paler flanks, and is more simply confused with different diving geese. In specific, some have white around the bill base which resembles the scaup species, though the white is rarely as in-depth as in these geese.

The females’ call is a harsh, growling “karr”, principally given in flight. The males are principally silent however they make whistles throughout courtship based mostly on a simple “wit-oo”.

Tufted ducks are small to medium-sized diving geese. Sexual dimorphism is clearly obvious amongst men and women. Males are usually bigger than females, with an average body size of 42 to 48 cm and a mass of 753.0 to 1026.2 g.

Females typically range from 39 to 44 cm in size and weigh in at 629.8 to 906.8 g. Seasonally, body mass will fluctuate between sexes. Both female and male tufted geese have an average wingspan of 70 cm.

The defining characteristic of this species that distinguishes them from the opposite members of Anatidae is the distinct tuft situated on the back of the head.

The tuft is black and more outstanding on males, and usually brown and fewer noticeable on females. Adult males are stable black with white underbellies and flanks.

They have vivid yellow eyes and a definite tuft that’s generally matted down from diving. Adult females are brown with darkish yellow flanks and a white underbelly and a much less pronounced tuft, or generally no tuft in any respect. Females even have vivid yellow eyes. The wing undersides of each adult female and male are white.

Juvenile tufted geese are related in look to mature feminine adults, nevertheless, juvenile color is much less vibrant and the tuft is much less pronounced. Males in non-breeding plumage additionally resemble females with a brown tint and a much less outstanding tuft or no tuft in any respect.

The sole duck which is in any respect related is the drake higher scaup which, nevertheless, has no tuft and a unique call.

The tufted duck is, without doubt, one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

tufted duck, scientific name Aythya fuligula

Tufted Duck Behavior

Tufted ducks are migratory birds that travel seasonally between the breeding and overwintering grounds. Like most geese, they’re extremely aquatic and barely stray removed from a body of water. They are diurnal for many of their life however might migrate nocturnally.

During the breeding season, male tufted ducks set up territories surrounding their nest and can defend it in opposition to neighboring males and predators.

During migratory intervals and the non-breeding season, they’re social. Groups usually collect in shallow lakes, ponds, and sluggish transferring rivers. Males are typically silent besides throughout mating. Females make a “karr” sound throughout the flight.

This species may be distinguished from different diving geese by their distinctive diving behavior. They launch themselves barely out of the water to assist submerge their bodies underwater whereas foraging in shallow water.

Submergence time for juveniles is lower than that of adults. Ducklings and juveniles skim the floor of waters for rising bugs and dive in very shallow water for New Zealand mud snails (Potammopyrgus jenkinsi) and Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha). Submergence time steadily will increase as people mature and enhance in size

Tufted Duck Communication

The use of visible and acoustic perceptions is essential for tufted geese as a result of they’re wanted to speak for mating rituals and warning calls. Like most birds, they understand their environment by visible, auditory, tactile, and chemical stimuli.

Both females and males make related calls, korr,korr,korr, or ka-ka-ka, karr, with the feminine usually presenting the call louder. Calls are usually emitted when starting to fly, quarreling, or when startled.

During mate choice, two or three male geese will flaunt their attributes within the presence of a feminine. To entice mates, males will swim in circles around a feminine, passing her quickly.

The male will prolong his neck to full size and raise his bill however is not going to look within the feminine’s path. Like different diving geese, male tufted geese dip their bills steadily and sound calls throughout courtship.

Females have additionally been spotted flaunting their attributes in the direction of males before mating.


These birds feed primarily by diving, however, they may generally upend from the floor. They eat mollusks, aquatic bugs, and a few vegetation and generally feed at night.

Tufted Duck Food Habits

Tufted geese are omnivores whose important source of meals are mollusks (Mollusca). The most preyed upon mollusks are zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha).

Zebra mussels are typically very considerable in sluggish transferring rivers, canals, docks, reservoirs, and enormous areas of freshwater.

In addition, tufted geese eat quite a lot of plant supplies, principally leaves, stems, and roots. They additionally sometimes feed on seeds.

They typically forage and feed with different members of their species. They usually dive collectively, or one after the opposite in a short time, and keep submerged from a couple of seconds to at least one minute.

There are all the time portions of sand, nice shells, and small stones discovered inside tufted geese’ stomachs.

This species often consumes meals underwater; nevertheless, when a bigger vertebrate or plant is being consumed they convey that meals to the floor the place they crush the meals with their bills before ingested.


The important predators of tufted geese are people. They are protected by searching legal guidelines in the course of the breeding season (May by early August); nevertheless, they could be hunted throughout the remainder of the year.

They may also be hunted by massive birds of prey resembling hawks, in addition to terrestrial predators together with foxes, raccoons, and common snapping turtles.

In addition, many animals prey on their eggs, together with home dogs, crows, and skunks. Like many birds, feminine tufted geese exhibit cryptic coloration to camouflage themselves whereas incubating the clutch.

Ecosystem Roles

Adult tufted geese, eggs, and younger are all common sources of meals for many predators. In addition, they function as hosts to a species of avian nasal parasites.

This parasite is present in mollusks as an intermediate host, after which are consumed by tufted geese. They are predators of many aquatic invertebrates, and usually have a big effect on these populations.

tufted duck, scientific name Aythya fuligula

Tufted Duck Reproduction

Tufted ducks are monogamous and breeds as soon as a year. Adults kind pair bonds throughout spring migration and mates stay collectively till late June to early July. Reproductive behavior and mannerisms are just like different diving geese.

Examples of “showing off” behavior embody dipping, often known as consuming, which is when the men and women swim rapidly alongside each other and dip their bills out and in of the water.

Another instance is the neck stretch, which is when the male swims quickly past the feminine and reaches its neck to its complete size, holding it there for a couple of seconds.

Male-only shows are few but include nod swimming (a quick swim that features nodding the head back in forth with full extension), a head throw (just like neck stretch), and preening behind the wing.

The breeding season for tufted geese happens from May to early August, with peak exercise from mid-May to mid-July. The breeding season begins with pair bondings that are shaped throughout spring migration and proceed till late June or early July.

For nest site choice, pairs browse alongside the open waters of wetlands. Females swim into flooded areas searching for an appropriate nesting site whereas males keep alert for predators and different threats.

Ideal nesting areas are close to water, typically amid dense vegetation. The feminine is the constructor of the nest which requires virtually per week to finish.

Grasses and feathers are used as assistance for the nest. By the third day of nest building, a bowl form has been shaped; by day six, the nest is powerful with an outlined form.

Female tufted ducks lay between 6 and 14 eggs a season, however on average between 8 and 10. Eggs are easy and ovular in form and range in color from olive-brown to olive-gray.

Incubation begins after the clutch is accomplished and begins on the first night the feminine stays within the nest in a single day. Incubation often lasts 26 to 27 days.

Chicks hatch often weighing 28 to 31 g, coated in downy feathers, and may typically start following parents and feeding themselves quickly after hatching.

Fledging happens 49 to 56 days after hatching and independence happen 21 to 56 days after fledging. Reproductive maturity is rapidly reached by each sex, and breeding can happen throughout the next breeding season.

Parental look after ducklings is exhibited solely by females. Males do contribute not directly by taking good care of dietary wants of the feminine in the course of the laying process.

The younger emerge from the egg without any assist from the mom, after which she disposes of the egg by ingesting it, eradicating it from the nest area, or crushing the shells.

Young tufted geese don’t rely on their moms for meals after they learn to dive. This usually happens inside the first 48 hours of hatching, nevertheless, throughout this first week younger ducklings rely totally on floor meals.

tufted duck, scientific name Aythya fuligula

Tufted Duck Conservation

Tufted duck has a really massive geographic range and their populations usually are not declining or fluctuating. The conservation standing of tufted geese on the IUCN Red listing is of the least concern.

The largest menace to tufted geese is habitat loss by human-induced alteration. This consists of the destruction of wetlands for human growth, waste air pollution, and oil spills.

Tufted duck usually is not endangered. They live in a big area and their numbers usually are not reducing. On the IUCN Red listing, they’re listed as a species of “least concern”.

Their greatest menace is lack of habitat due brought on by human activities, together with destroying wetlands to construct buildings and air pollution from trash or oil spills.

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