They are highly gregarious ducks. Pair bonding starts in the fall and continues throughout the winter and spring. Red-crested Pochards are the only waterfowl that engage in ritualized courtship feeding in which males present food offerings to their mates. Such behavior is apparently restricted to well-established partners and possibly reinforced pair bonds. Diving drakes bring food up that is offered directly to their mates or dropped on the water in front of them while many offerings are inedible, these are accepted nonetheless. Courting drakes emit a strange whistling sound and loud raspy wheezes that recall stifled sneezes. The hard, grating chatter of their mates brings to mind the distant barking of dogs.
The females may lay in the nests of conspecifics and other aquatic birds; dump-nests contain as many as 39 eggs. Drakes patrol nest areas while their mates lay and incubate. Some males remain with females and broods for short periods, but the majority depart near the end of incubation in early June to gather in flocks. The molt migration can be quite extensive. Females bring food to the surface for their progeny. For the first few weeks, invertebrate pray is an important part of the ducklings diet. Female/offspring bonds are strong and may persist after fledging at 45-50 days of age.