The females have a short crest on the nape of the neck, and have a dark brown body with pale brown flanks. The males are altogether darker but with white flanks and a long wispy tuft on the nape. Both sexes have yellow eyes and blue-grey bills with a black tip, and bold white wingbars. The juvenile has a dark, dull brown body and a slight tuft.
They dive beneath the water to feed on molluscs and insects. The nest is formed of a down-lined hollow in long vegetation close to water. It lays 8-11 eggs in 1 brood, from May to June. They can live for up to 15 years.
Seen all year round, and inhabits lakes, gravel pits, and reservoirs. Along with Pochards, the Tufted Duck can form large winter flocks on inland waters. There has been a decline in breeding numbers, yet it widespread throughout the British Isles.
Photographs of Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) taken October 2011, nature reserve, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.