Aythya ferina | Common Pochard | Póiseard cíordhearg
This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.
A significant decline in wintering populations have been noted in this species, cementing their position as a Red-List species in the latest BoCCI assessment (Gilbert, Stanbury and Lewis, 2021).
The Pochard was listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on a global scale in the last IUCN Red List assessment in 2016. Additionally, a decreasing population trend was noted.
A male Pochard can be identified by its reddish-brown head that meets a black breast and a whitish-grey body. The beak is typically black and white and a black tail can be seen.
The females are less conspicuous than the males and may give trouble when identifying in the field. They are typically brownish-grey colour with a brown breast.
The Pochard stands at approximately 46 cm in length with a wingspan of 77 cm and a weight of 930-980 grams.
The Pochard is an omnivorous diver but feeds mainly on plant material such as vegetative sections of aquatic plants and seeds. It will however feed on animal material such as small fish, molluscs and insects, if available.
Suitable wintering habitat includes shallow, well-vegetated marshes, swamps and lakes as well as slower flowing rivers with high nutrient levels.
They may be found in estuaries when migrating.
During the breeding season, the Pochard lays a clutch of 8-10 eggs, each weighing approximately 66 grams, and incubate them for a period of 25 days.
The young will fledge after 50-55 days.
A typical wild Pochard will have a lifespan of three years, with breeding occurring after year one.
It is thought that high levels of nutrient input, resulting in ‘hyper-trophic’ conditions, are reducing chironomid larvae numbers and, by extension, negatively impacting the Pochard as these are among its primary food sources (Gilbert, Stanbury and Lewis, 2021).
The Pochard is a rare summer visitor and is most commonly found during winter months when the small breeding population is bolstered by visitors.
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021
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BirdWatch Ireland: https://birdwatchireland.ie/birds/pochard/
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/pochard/
British Trust for Ornithology: https://app.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob1980.htm
IUCN Red List: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22680358/155473754
Gilbert, G., Stanbury, A. and Lewis, L., 2021. Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 4: 2020-2026. [online] Wicklow. Available at: <https://birdwatchireland.ie/birds-of-conservation-concern-in-ireland/> [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].