Wildlife in Italy: Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca

Wildlife in Italy: Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca

Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Birds
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidi
Kind: Aythya
Species: A. nyroca Guldenstadt 1770

Irregular migratory bird. The Moretta tabaccata nests in Eastern Europe and Asia, with a main range that stops however in Hungary and Poland. In Italy it is rare as a breeding species (about 70-100 couples distributed in the main wetlands of the upper and lower Adriatic, Sicily and Sardinia), while it is easier to observe it during migration or wintering.

Moretta tobacco - Aythya nyroca (photo

Moretta tobacco in flight - Aythya nyroca (photo

Distinctive characters

The male in a suit has a dark brown back, the upper part of the wings with an extended white bar, the head, the chest and the hips reddish brown. The beak is blackish with black apex and lyrid of the blue celestial eye. The white undertail is usually very evident in both flying and posed subjects. The females are very similar to the adult males in dress with the color difference of the head, chest and hips (which also have a hint of broader darker stripes) which are brown (without reddish shades) and lyrid is dark. The males in eclipse dress resemble the females but retain a blue celestial lyrid. Juveniles are almost indistinguishable from females. (source:

Total length: 38-43 cm
Wingspan: 62-69 cm

Moretta tobacco - Aythya nyroca (photo


It is a gregarious species throughout the year. It frequents shallow waters rich in emerged marsh vegetation. Due to these habits of being often hidden among the vegetation, it is not always easy to identify it. Easier to see it and recognize it when it is flying. It feeds on looking for food underwater and performs the fly after a short run-up on the water.

Video: Ferruginous Duck, Aythya nyroca Güldenstädt, 1770 Βαλτόπαπια - Cyprus (January 2022).