Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

Scientific name: Aythya fuligula

Did you know: The Tufted Duck, with its distinctive feather tuft, can consume up to three times its body weight in mussels in just one day during winter!

What Do Tufted Ducks Look Like? (how to identify them)

The Tufted Duck is a charming, medium-sized diving bird, slightly smaller than the familiar Mallard. Recognisable by their bold black and white colouring, the males boast a sleek black head, neck, breast, and back, contrasted by striking white sides. 

Notably, both sexes flaunt a unique feather tuft at the back of their heads, with males displaying a more pronounced version. They have golden-yellow eyes and a small crest, with a notable white stripe across the wing in flight. Measuring 40-47 cm in length with a wingspan of 67-73 cm, they are a frequent sight across the UK’s water bodies.

Differences Between Male And Female Tufted Ducks

Males are distinguished by their stark black and white plumage and a blue-grey bill. In contrast, females wear a more subdued brown attire with paler flanks, occasionally showing white around the bill base. While the male is mostly silent, the female’s vocalisation is a distinctive, harsh “karr”, primarily heard in flight.

What Do Tufted Ducks Eat?

These ducks are not picky eaters. They primarily dine on aquatic insects, molluscs, and some plant materials. Their feeding technique is as interesting as their diet – they often dive underwater but are also known to upend from the surface, especially at night.

Where Do Tufted Ducks Live? (inc. migration info)

Tufted Ducks have a widespread presence across the UK’s lowland areas, especially in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Their habitat ranges from urban and suburban water bodies to marine and intertidal zones and wetlands. 

Intriguingly, their numbers swell in winter due to migration from Iceland and northern Europe. Breeding predominantly near marshes, lakes, and sheltered ponds, they prefer habitats with abundant vegetation for nesting.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Tufted Ducks)

The vocal expressions of the Tufted Duck are a treat. The females are more vocal, emitting a growling “karr” in flight. Males, usually silent, indulge in soft whistles during courtship. This contrast in vocal styles adds an auditory charm to their presence.

Fun Tufted Duck Facts (kid-friendly)

  • Tufted Ducks can dive to great depths in search of food.
  • They have a special flair for their namesake tuft of feathers.
  • In winter, they may eat three times their body weight daily!
  • Females sometimes lay eggs in other ducks’ nests, a behaviour known as “egg dumping.”
  • They’re a rare but regular visitor to North America.
  • Tufted Ducks’ eggs hatch in sync with the peak of midge larvae, ensuring a feast for the ducklings.
  • They have a conservation status of Green in the UK, indicating they’re not currently at risk.
  • The Tufted Duck’s scientific name, ‘fuligula’, means ‘sooty throat.’

Facts About The Tufted Duck

Diet: Molluscs, insects and some plants.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 40-47cm
Wingspan: 67-73cm
Weight: 450-1,000g
Scientific Name: Aythya fuligula

The Tufted Duck Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Tufted Duck Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile