Status: Winter visitor, most occurring in Ireland between November and April, come from the population breeding in Fennoscandia.
Conservation Concern: Amber-listed in Ireland due to its small breeding population and localised wintering range. The European population has been evaluated as Secure.
Identification: Medium sized, with large rounded head, crown slightly peaked, bill small and triangular. Speculum white. Male head black with green gloss, large white loral spot, yellow eye, white breast and flanks. Female head brown, collar and belly white, breast and flanks grey, bill dark, with a yellowish band across the outer part when breeding.
Similar Species: Other ducks.
Call: A squeezed double note 'bee-beech'.
Diet: Invertebrates, mostly crustaceans, but also molluscs and occasionally small fish. Insects, especially caddis-fly and chironomid larvae, dominate the diet of birds occurring on inland waters.
Breeding: Nests in holes in trees and nestboxes, and ccasionally in rabbit burrows, usually near water. Reported in Britain during the early 1930s, with no further records until one in Scotland in 1970. Breeding range has since expanded, to 95 nests in 1990. One pair bred at Lough Neagh in 2000 - the first breeding record in Ireland.
Wintering: Winter on coastal estuaries and inland lakes. Relatively widespread distribution in Ireland.
Where to See: Loughs Neagh & Beg in County Antrim, Belfast Lough in County Down, Lough Sheelin in County Cavan, Strangford Lough in County Down and Larne Lough in County Antrim are among the best wintering sites, each supporting between 200 and 7,500 birds.
Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey.