Found in the temperate zones of Eurasia, it is only sedentary in Western Europe. Elsewhere, it is a migrator, nesting in Lapland and spending winter as far away as Ethiopia.
The tufted duck measures about 47 cm.
The male is mainly black, apart from a white belly and sides. A black crest dangles from the nape. The bill is grey apart from the black tip, separated by a fine white line. The webbed feet are grey.
The female has brown plumage on top with lighter brown beneath. The bill and eyes are the same colour but its crest is shorter. Sometimes there is a white mark at the base of the bill. In flight, both sexes display white wing markings.
This diving duck can remain under water for between 10 and 20 seconds. Propelled by its broad webbed feet, it can go as deep as 7 metres.
In May/June, the female lays 6 to 11 eggs, followed by an incubation period of between 23 and 28 days.