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Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

The Tufted Duck is a rather small duck, significantly smaller than a Mallard. Females are dark brown. Males are black, the flanks are bright white. Both sexes have a tuft hanging down from the head. The male's tuft however is much longer than the female's. The Tufted Duck is a so-called Diving Duck. They dive under water to find food. Especially Zebra Mussels are eaten.

Tufted Ducks breed in Eastern, Central and Nortern Europe. They overwinter in Central Europe, Southern Europe and Asia. In a very small area of Europe they can be seen all year round. This area is comprised of Ireland, the UK, Holland, Belgium and parts of Germany. Numbers become much bigger in winter, for many birds also overwinter in this area. The Tufted Duck is not as confidential towards people as the Mallard is. Yet it does appear in parks, even in the middle of big cities, where it may even breed. Besides, it can rarely been seen walking on land. In order to dive, the legs are situated rather towards the back of the body, which makes walking not very easy. It dives very well indeed and may go down to a depth of 3 meters.

The Tuft Duck measurs some 40 to 47 cm, weighing 600 to 700 grams. The nest is made in reet, or on small islands. The animal loves to breed in groups, but it does not have colonies. Some 4 to 9 eegs are laid. The female will breed them for about 28 days. After hatching she will raise the young all by herself. Males and females do not moult at the same time. This is the reason one often sees large groups of moulding Tufted Ducks comprised entirely of just males or just females.

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