Diving Ducks

Tribe Aythyini

Tribe List based on Helm’s “Wildfowl of Europe, Asia and North America” by Sebastien Reeber published by Bloomsbury 2015 ISBN: 978-1-4729-1234-3 with additional South American species not included in that publication from “Coloured Key to the Wildfowl of the World” by Peter Scott updated and published by WWT in 2006 ISBN: 0-900806-35-4

See Also: Dabbling Ducks Sea Ducks Shelducks

Diving ducks mainly feed by diving beneath the surface of the water, they are mostly gregarious and mainly found on fresh water and estuaries. They are strong fliers but have difficulty taking off, having to run across the water to gain take off speed. Diving ducks have their legs further back on their bodies than dabbling ducks to help propel them when underwater, though this restricts their ability to walk on land.



The Red-Crested Pochard is a diving duck from southern Europe and central Asia.
It is a gregarious bird forming large flocks in winter and often mix with other diving ducks such as the Common Pochard. A feral population of Red Crested Pochard has been established in the United Kingdom which have more than likely formed from escapees.


Above: Female – London WWT Oct 2017)


CANVASBACK (Aythya valisineria)


This is a large, flashy diving duck with a pale gray body, black breast and tail and gray legs and feet. The head is red-brown with a long sloping profile, a long dark bill and red eyes. It feeds primarily on aquatic plants. It has a rapid direct flight with strong wing beats and flies high, usually in V- formations.


REDHEAD (Aythya americana)


Adult male Redhead in alternate plumage easily is distinguished from Canvasback by yellow eye, blue bill with black tip, gray back and different profile. Females distinguished from female Canvasback by brown body plumage and blue bill with black tip. Females can be distinguished from female Ring-necked Duck by smoothly rounded crown, dark cap and darker brown plumage.

COMMON POCHARD (Aythya ferina)


In winter and spring, male pochards are very distinctive. They have a bright reddish-brown head, a black breast and tail and a pale grey body. Females are more easily confused with other species; they are brown with a greyish body and pale cheeks. However, during the ‘eclipse’ – when ducks grow new feathers – the males look very similar to the females. They become more camouflaged so that they don’t draw the attention of predators.

TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)


Our commonest diving duck, nesting on flooded gravel pits and lakes and reservoirs, and gathering in large flocks in the winter, often mixed with Pochard and Coot. Tufted Ducks feed on waterweed, plant seeds and aquatic invertebrates.





Information on individual species taken from Avian Web, The WWT, RSPB and audubon

Pictures by Ken James

Some of my species photos as yet missing from this tribe include; the Scaup’s, Ferruginous Duck, Marbled Duck et al. Ongoing…

See Also: Dabbling Ducks Sea Ducks Shelducks