SHIJIAZHUANG, June 1 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese ornithologist has observed a group of Baer's pochard ducklings in Hengshui Lake in north China's Hebei Province.
Li Feng, with Heng Shui University, spotted 19 young pochard being led by a female adult on the lake on Monday, proving successful breeding of the species.
It was the third time local ornithologists have spotted ducklings since observation started in 2010, Li said.
Since a female pochard usually lays eight to 10 eggs at one time, Li said, the nestlings probably come from two families.
The pochard breeds in southeast Russia and northeast China, migrating to southern China, Vietnam, Japan and India in winter.
It is classified as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as its number has sharply declined since the 1980s, with the global population now standing at a mere 1,000 birds.
Threats include habitat loss and degradation through human disturbance and inadequate site protection and management.
In 2017, 308 Baer's pochards were recorded in Hengshui Lake. An international seminar on the bird was held in Hengshui in March.
Monitoring data shows drakes far outnumber ducks, which might prompt the males to turn to females of other species, Li said.
"That would affect the gene pool of the pochard, and affect its population," he said, while calling for greater efforts to protect the species.
Hengshui Lake National Nature Reserve, covering 283 square kilometers, has a complete wetland ecosystem. It is home to more than 150 bird species, including some 60 under protection.