This species is classified as Critically Endangered as it is apparently undergoing a extremely rapid population decline, as measured by numbers on both the breeding and wintering grounds. It is now absent or occurs in extremely reduced numbers over the majority of its former breeding and wintering grounds and is common nowhere. It is thought that hunting and wetland destruction are the key reasons for its decline.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Distribution and population
41-46 cm. Pale-eyed diving duck. Similar spp. Males are best told from other Aythya ducks by combination of blackish head, upper neck and upperparts, whitish eyes and chestnut-brown and white flanks. In flight, wing pattern like Ferruginous Duck A. nyroca, but white upperwing-band does not extend as far onto outer primaries. Eclipse male resembles female, but retains whitish eyes. Female has combination of domed head without nuchal tuft, contrast between dark head and warm brown breast and white on foreflanks, ruling out A. nyroca and A. fuligula. Juvenile resembles female, but more chestnut-tinged head with darker crown and hindneck and no defined loral patch.
The species breeds in the Amur and Ussuri basins in Russia
and north-eastern China
. It winters mainly in eastern and southern mainland China
(maximum winter total of 17 individuals in the last five years, down from 1,000-2,000 individuals [Chowdhury et al.
, with smaller numbers in Japan
, North Korea
, South Korea
(very few records in the latter three countries in recent years [N. Moores in litt.
2005] with approximately 20 records from South Korea since 1994 most of these before 2002 [N. Moores in litt
, Hong Kong
(now a very rare visitor and absent in some years [H. S. Baral in litt.
(occurring in small numbers having suffered significant declines, e.g. around four or five individuals occur at Bung Boraphet, down from >420 birds in 1988 [P. Round in litt.
2007]), Lao PDR
(only one confirmed record [J. Tordoff in litt.
2007]), and Viet Nam
(very rare in recent years
[J. Tordoff in litt.
2007]) and is a rare migrant to Mongolia
. It is a very rare visitor to the Philippines
, where only four records exist, the most recent from January 2015 when a male was found in Candaba (R. Hutchinson in litt
. 2015, Ramos 2015).
Declines in the breeding range have been reported in China with the species no longer reported to breed at Xianghai Reserve due to a prolonged drought at the site (J. Hornskov in litt.
2005, S. Chowdhury in litt.
2010). In 2012 there were no breeding records from the species's core breeding range of north-east China and neighbouring Russia (Hearn et al
. 2013). Recent reports suggest the species breeds in Hebei Province (Townshend 2014) and possibly in Shandong Province, China (N. Moores in litt
. 2014). Two individuals observed over winter 2012-2013 in China and South Korea were likely to have been first winter birds (Hearn et al
. 2013). A total of 65 individuals including 45 males was reported at a breeding site in China in August 2014 (T. Townshend in litt
. 2014). One female bird was recorded over a period of several weeks at Muraviovka Park, Russia in July 2013 but direct evidence of breeding or nesting was not found and the area flooded soon afterwards (Heim et al
. 2013). A drastic decline and range contraction has occurred in the species's wintering range, with the species ceasing to winter in regular numbers at any site outside of mainland in China as of winter 2010/11. This is combined with a marked range contraction in the wintering range within China, with no records from many provinces in recent years, despite increases in birdwatching activity, including the loss of populations along the Yangtze River basin (only eight individuals recorded during the 2005 WWF survey of the Yangtze River basin [Barter et al.
2005]), Wuchang Lake, Anhui (previously the location of the largest known concentration of wintering birds with >200 individuals in recent years), Liangzi Lake (previously c. 130 individuals in winter 2010/2011) and the Baiquan wetlands, Wuhan (Hearn et al
. 2013, W. Xin, C. Lei, L. Jinyu and T. Fox in litt.
2012). During the winter of 2012-2013 it is estimated that there were at least 45 individuals (minimum 26) in China (counts focussed on sites within the wintering range including the central and lower Yangtze floodplain) whilst no birds were recorded from a few key sites in Bangladesh and Myanmar (Hearn et al
. 2013). In December 2014, 84 individuals were observed at Taibai Lake, Shandong Province (S. Chan in litt
. 2014). Observations of the species migrating along the Hebei coast, China, have reduced considerably in more recent years (J. Hornskov in litt.
2009). The total population is now likely to be fewer than 1,000 individuals (W. Xin, C. Lei, L. Jinyu and T. Fox in litt.
W. Xin, C. Lei, L. Jinyu and T. Fox in litt.
(2012) stated that 'we fear that the global population is now less than 1,000 individuals and could be very much lower than this', and so it is placed in the band 250-999 individuals, equating to 167-666 mature individuals, rounded here to 150-700 mature individuals.
An extremely rapid population decline over the last three generations is estimated from numbers recorded on wintering and breeding grounds, as well as migration routes on the Hebei Coast, China (J. Hornskov in litt. 2005), and is thought to be caused by on-going hunting and habitat degradation; hence, the decline is expected to continue at this rate.
It breeds around lakes with rich aquatic vegetation in dense grass or flooded tussock/shrubby meadows. In Liaoning, China, it is usually found in coastal wetlands with dense vegetation, or on rivers and ponds surrounded by forest. The nest is built on a tussock or under shrubs, sometimes floating, and occasionally amongst branches. In winter, it occurs on freshwater lakes and reservoirs.
Threats are poorly understood, but hunting and wetland destruction in its breeding, wintering and staging grounds are probably the reasons for its decline. In several cases, the loss of populations from former important areas have been preceded by low water levels or complete drying up of water bodies (e.g. the loss of the breeding population at Xianghai Reserve and the wintering population at Baiquan wetlands in Wuhan [J. Hornskov in litt. 2005, S. Chowdhury in litt. 2010, W. Xin, C. Lei, L. Jinyu and T. Fox in litt. 2012]). Candaba Swamp in the Philippines where the species has been recorded in winter is under imminent threat of land conversion (Roberts 2015). Development for tourism and recreational watersports pose a threat to the species's habitat (Townshend 2014). Conversion of wetland habitat for agriculture, such as rice fields, is also a threat (Ramos 2015). There are unconfirmed reports of high mortality from hunting, including a report of 3,000 individuals being shot annually at Rudong, Jiangsu Province (Lei Gang 2010); however, this is very likely an overestimate and may be due to the translation of the species name (Baer's Pochard is synonymous with Mallard in Chinese) (S. Chan in litt. 2011). Incidents of hunting by the use of poisoned baits have been recorded at wintering locations for Baer's Pochard in Bangladesh. which have the potential to cause significant mortality from a single incident (Chowdhury et al. 2012). Hybridisation is also a potential threat (N. Moores in litt. 2014).
Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. It is legally protected in Russia, Mongolia and Hong Kong (China) and in some provinces in China. Some of its breeding and wintering sites are within protected areas, including Daursky, Khanka lake and Bolon lake (Russia), Sanjiang and Xianghai (China), Mai Po (Hong Kong), Koshi Barrage (Nepal), and Thale Noi (Thailand). Pochards are generally easy to maintain in captivity, yet this species is considered scarce in collections (F. S. Todd in litt. 1996). Surveys of the species were carried out in China in winter 2012-2013 (Hearn et al. 2013).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Research its population, distribution, ecology and threats in order to produce conservation recommendations. Research the species's breeding distribution and biology and feeding biology. Establish more protected areas in its breeding grounds and develop captive breeding populations. Protect birds at known breeding sites (e.g. two sites in Hebei and Shandong provinces where the species bred in 2012), direct interventions could include provision of supplementary food and nest protection (Hearn et al. 2013). Further surveys during the breeding season are required in and around Muraviovka Park on the Zeya-Bureya Plain, Far East Russia to understand whether this area is a significant breeding site for the species (Heim et al. 2013). Extend the area of the Khanka Lake Reserve (Russia). Designate the Xianghai Nature Reserve (China) as a restricted area during the breeding season. Protect and manage large wetlands in China and in other countries where the species winters (Hearn et al. 2013). Regulate hunting of all Anatidae species in China. Ensure legal protection of this species in all range states.
Barter, M.; Lei Cao; Liwei Chen; Gang Lei. 2005. Results of a survey for waterbirds in the lower Yangtze floodplain, China, in January-February 2004. Forktail 21: 1-7.
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Chowdhury, S.U., Lees, A.C. and Thompson, P. M. 2012. Status and distribution of the endangered Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri in Bangladesh. Forktail 28: 57-61.
Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.
Hearn, R., Tao, X. and Hilton, G. 2013. A species in serious trouble: Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri is heading for extinction in the wild. BirdingASIA 19: 63-67.
Heim, W., Wolanska, K., Siegmund, A. and Schuster, U. 2013. Possible breeding of Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri at Muraviovka Park, Far East Russia. BirdingASIA 20: 64-66.
IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 19 November 2015).
Ramos, T. 2015. Baer's Pochard in the Last Pond in Candaba, Pampanga. Available at: https://ebonph.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/baers-pochard-in-the-last-pond-in-candaba-pampanga/. (Accessed: 26/05/2015).
Roberts, B. 2015. The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) and its importance in highlighting critical conservation sites, such as Candaba Marsh. The Philippine Duck Project. Available at: https://philippineduckproject.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/the-asian-waterbird-census-awc-and-its-importance-in-highlighting-important-conservation-sites-such-as-candaba-marsh/. (Accessed: 27/07/2015).
Todd, F. S. 1996. Natural history of the waterfowl. Ibis Publishing Company, Vista, CA, U.S.A.
Townshend, T. 2014a. Juvenile BAER'S POCHARD? Available at: http://birdingbeijing.com/2014/07/28/juvenile-baers-pochard/.
Wildpro. Aythya baeri - Baer's pochard. Available at: http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/0AvAnserif/anatidae/1acravan_aythya/aythya_baeri/aythya_baeri.htm. (Accessed: 05/08/2013).
Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species
Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Chan, S., Derhé, M., Mahood, S., Peet, N., Martin, R & Ashpole, J
Anderson, B., Baral, H., Barter, M., Berlijn, M., Bird, J., Cao, L., Chan, S., Chowdhury, S., Chunkino, G., Duckworth, W., Eames, J.C., Fox, T., Hearn, R., Hornskov, J., Hughes, B., Hutchinson, R., Lei, J., Li, Z., Mahood, S., Moores, N., Round, P., Sharma, A., Thompson, P., Tordoff, J., Wang, X. & Williams, M.
IUCN Red List evaluators
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Aythya baeri. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 02/12/2015.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 02/12/2015.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.
Additional resources for this species