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Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri
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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.

Taxonomic source(s)
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.

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.

Distribution and population
Aythya baeri breeds in the Amur and Ussuri basins in Russia and north-eastern China. It winters mainly in eastern and southern mainland China, India, Bangladesh (maximum winter total of 17 individuals in the last five years , down from 1,000 - 2,000 individuals [Chowdhury et al. 2012]) and Myanmar, 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]), Hong Kong (China), Taiwan (China), Nepal (now a very rare visitor and absent in some years [H. S. Baral in litt. 2007]), Bhutan, Thailand (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 Vietnam (very rare in recent years [J. Tordoff in litt. 2007]) and is a rare migrant to Mongolia.

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 addition, 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 (W. Xin, C. Lei, L. Jinyu and T. Fox in litt. 2012). 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. 2012).

Population justification
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.

Trend justification
An extremely rapid population decline over the last three generations is estimated from numbers recorded on wintering and breeding grounds, as well 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]). 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).

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).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. Extend the area of the Khanka Lake Reserve (Russia). Designate the Xianghai Nature Reserve (China) as a restricted area during the breeding season. 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.

Todd, F. S. 1996. Natural history of the waterfowl. Ibis Publishing Company, Vista, CA, U.S.A.

Wildpro. Aythya baeri - Baer"s pochard. Available at: (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

Anderson, B., Baral, H., Barter, M., Chan, S., Chunkino, G., Duckworth, W., Eames, J.C., Hornskov, J., Li, Z., Moores, N., Round, P., Thompson, P., Tordoff, J., Mahood, S., Bird, J., Chowdhury, S., Fox, T., Lei, J., Cao, L., Wang, X., Williams, M., Hearn,

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Aythya baeri. Downloaded from on 13/10/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 13/10/2015.

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

ARKive species - Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
Species name author (Radde, 1863)
Population size 150-700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,640,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species