With estimated populations of 600,000 birds in Central Europe, Black Sea and Mediterranean and 250,000 birds in Northeast/Northwest Europe, the Common Pochard remains a familiar species to many waterbird counters and bird watchers across Europe and North Africa. However, there is growing concern over its conservation status. Now listed as Vulnerable on the European Red List of Birds and the global IUCN Red List, numbers have fallen in both European populations, which must mean either survival or productivity is decreasing (i.e. more birds are dying or fewer young are being produced). In order to improve knowledge of the population structure of Common Pochard, the Duck Specialist Group (DSG) is undertaking an assessment of the sex ratio of both European populations in January 2016.
The collection of sex ratio data can provide useful information on the population structure and even a crude assessment of relative changes in survival rates between the sexes. As many European duck populations are undergoing rapid changes in distribution and/or numbers, and little is known about their population demographics, it would be advantageous to start the collection of sex ratio data across Europe, which can be easily recorded for most species during standard waterbird counts.
During January 2016 the DSG is seeking participation from waterbird counters and bird watchers across Europe and North Africa to help collect sex ratio data for Common Pochard. Waterbird counters and birders are being asked to simply record the number of males and females in flocks. This can be carried out as part of the next International Waterbird Census (16th/17th January 2016) or, if preferable, during a separate visit some other time in January 2016. Sex ratio counts from bird watchers who may happen to see Pochard flocks whilst out bird watching are also welcome. The sex of every single bird in the flock is not required; however, please do try to obtain as large a sample as possible.
Further information on the assessment, including details on what information to collect and where to submit counts, can be found on the Duck Specialist Group website.