This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: #http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _the_WP15.xls#.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.
The global population is estimated to number c.8,900,000-9,800,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs, c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs, c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Korea; c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs, c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations are stable, fluctuating or have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).EcologyBehaviour
Most populations in warm and temperate regions are resident (del Hoyo et al.
1996), often making nomadic dispersive movements according to changing water levels and seasonal rainfall (Urban et al
. 1986, del Hoyo et al.
Populations in northern Eurasia are fully migratory however, migrating on a broad front through continental Europe and across the Sahara (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Southward movements occur from mid-August to November (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), with the return passage occurring from late-February (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) to May (del Hoyo et al.
1996). The species nests in dispersed solitary pairs (Urban et al
. 1986, del Hoyo et al.
1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), although it is largely gregarious (del Hoyo et al.
1996) with flocks (sometimes of several thousand individuals (Snow and Perrins 1998)) frequently forming during the winter (Urban et al
. 1986, Snow and Perrins 1998, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Adults undergo a post-breeding flightless moult period, with flocks of moulting birds congregating from June-September (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species is diurnally active and roosts at sunset solitarily or in flocks (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It may feed in flocks on land, especially when winds cause high waves on water (del Hoyo et al.
The species inhabits large, still or slow-flowing waters (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) and shows a preference for shallow water with adjacent deeper water (e.g. > 2 m) for diving (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), and muddy substrates, marginal, emergent, floating or submergent vegetation (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Habitats include eutrophic and mesotrophic (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) lakes (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), pools, ponds, reservoirs, barrages, gravel-pits, canals, drainage ditches, dykes, oxbow lakes (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), fish ponds (Musil 2006), creeks (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), rivers (del Hoyo et al.
1996) and river deltas (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), as well as open marshes (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), freshwater meadows (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), flood-lands (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), freshwater and saline lagoons (Urban et al
. 1986), salt-pans, clay-pans (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and sewage ponds (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It frequently exploits temporary pools and seasonally inundated marshes when breeding (Africa) (Urban et al
. 1986), and may extend to quiet estuaries or inshore waters in the winter (del Hoyo et al.
1996). It generally avoids closely overgrown, narrowly confined and very shallow waters, and those overshadowed by trees or cliffs (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). If solitary the species roosts at sunset on small islets, mudbanks, sandbanks, rocks in water, floating mats of vegetation, floating logs, or branches of trees over water, preferring to roost on open water, in shore vegetation or in meadows adjacent to water if in flocks (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Diet
This species is omnivorous, although its diet consists primarily of vegetable matter (del Hoyo et al.
1996) such as algae (e.g. Chara
), the vegetative pasts of aquatic and terrestrial plants (e.g. waterweeds, bulrushes, reeds and grasses), the seeds of waterweeds, sedges, water-lilies, grasses and cereal crops (del Hoyo et al.
1996), clubmoss Selaginella
and aquatic fungi (e.g. Leptomitus
) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Animal matter in its diet includes molluscs, adult and larval insects (especially flies, caddisflies, Odonata, Lepidoptera, beetles and bugs) (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), worms, leeches, shrimps, spiders (del Hoyo et al.
1996), small fish (Urban et al
. 1986, del Hoyo et al.
1996), fish eggs, frogs, birds and bird eggs, and small mammals (del Hoyo et al.
1996). Breeding site
The nest is a platform of vegetation that may be resting on the bottom of shallow water, floating or on a foundation of trampled plant matter in emergent vegetation (del Hoyo et al.
1996). The species may also nest on artificial platforms, islands, rafts, tree stumps, tree forks (del Hoyo et al.
1996) or in bushes up to 3 m above the water (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Management information
A study in the Czech Republic found that fish ponds with a fish stock density of less than 400 kg/ha, water transparency of more than 50 cm, mixed fish stocks (e.g. tench and pike or perch) rather than monospecific stocks (e.g. of carp), and systems that include ponds with fish fry (to provide areas with low fish competition and high invertebrate availability) are more successful in supporting breeding pairs of this species (Musil 2006). The cyclical removal of adult fish from an artificial waterbody (gravel pit) in the UK (leaving small fish for piscivorous birds) resulted in increased winter use of the habitat by the species as result of an increase in the growth of submerged aquatic macrophytes (Giles 1994). The removed fish (dead or alive) were sold to generate funds (Giles 1994).Threats
This species suffers disturbance (Evans and Day 2002) and mortality (Azerbaijan) from hunting (del Hoyo et al.
1996), and is poisoned by ingesting lead shot (France) (Mondain-Monval et al.
2002). It is also threatened by oil and petroleum pollution (Azerbaijan (del Hoyo et al.
1996) and the Kaliningrad region, Russia (Grishanov 2006)), and by habitat degradation and loss due to agricultural drainage schemes (Pakistan) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), wetland drainage, peat-extraction, changing wetland management practices (decreased grazing and mowing in meadows leading to scrub over-growth) and the burning and mowing of reeds (Grishanov 2006). The species is often drowned in freshwater fishing nets with mesh sizes greater than 5 cm (China) (Quan et al.
2002), and suffers predation from American mink Neovison vison
(Slonsk Reserve, Poland (Bartoszewicz and Zalewski 2003) and UK (Ferreras and MacDonald 1999)). It is also susceptible to avian influenza, so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006).Utilisation
The species is hunted for sport in the Mediterranean (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), Denmark (Bregnballe 2006), Northern Ireland (Evans and Day 2002) and Iran (Balmaki and Barati 2006), and for food in the Mediterranean (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), Iran (Balmaki and Barati 2006), India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and neighbouring countries (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), especially when it is flightless during the post-breeding moult (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).
Balmaki, B.; Barati, A. 2006. Harvesting status of migratory waterfowl in northern Iran: a case study from Gilan Province. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 868-869. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.
Bartoszewicz, M.; Zalewski, A. 2003. American mink, Mustela vison diet and predation on waterfowl in the Slonsk Reserve, western Poland. Folia Zoologica 52(3): 225-238.
Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.
Bregnballe, T., Noer, H., Christensen, T.K., Clausen, P., Asferg, T., Fox, A.D. and Delany, S. 2006. Sustainable hunting of migratory waterbirds: the Danish approach. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith, and D. Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 854-860. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Evans, D.M. and Day, K.R. 2002. Hunting disturbance on a large shallow lake: the effectiveness of waterfowl refuges. Ibis 144(1): 2-8.
Ferreras, P.; MacDonald, D. W. 1999. The impact of American mink Mustela vison on water birds in the upper Thames. Journal of Applied Ecology 36: 701-708.
Giles, N. 1994. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) habitat use and brood survival increases after fish removal from gravel pit lakes. Hydrobiologia 279/280: 387-392.
Grishanov, D. 2006. Conservation problems of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds and their habitats in the Kaliningrad region of Russia. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 356. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, U.K.
IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 19 November 2015).
Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.
Mondain-Monval, J.Y., Desnouhes, L. and Taris, J.P. 2002. Lead shot ingestion in waterbirds in the Camargue, (France). Game and Wildlife Science 19(3): 237-246.
Musil, P. 2006. A review of the effects of intensive fish production on waterbird breeding populations. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D. Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 520-521. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, U.K.
Quan, R. C.; Wen, W.; Yang, X. 2002. Effects of human activities on migratory waterbirds at Lashihai Lake, China. Biological Conservation 108: 273-279.
Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Taylor, B. 1998. Rails: a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules and coots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.
Urban, E.K., Fry, C.H. and Keith, S. 1986. The Birds of Africa, Volume II. Academic Press, London.
Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species
View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Malpas, L.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Fulica atra. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 30/11/2015.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 30/11/2015.
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
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