Shelduck , Kapprustand
tadorna, No: Gravand,
shelducks, genus Tadorna, are a group of large birds in the
Tadorninae subfamily of the Anatidae,
the biological family that includes the ducks and most duck-like
waterfowl such as the geese and swans.
The shelducks are a group of larger often semi-terrestrial waterfowl,
which can be seen as intermediate between
geese (Anserinae) and ducks. They are mid-sized (some 5060
cm) Old World waterfowl.
The sexes are colored slightly different in most species, and
all have a characteristic upperwing coloration in flight:
the tertiary remiges form a green speculum, the secondaries
and primaries are black, and the coverts (forewing)
are white. Their diet consists of small shore animals (winkles,
crabs etc.) as well as grasses and other plants.
They were originally known as "sheldrakes", this remained
the most common name until the late 19th century.
The word is still sometimes used to refer to a male shelduck
and can also occasionally refer to the Canvasback (Aythya
valisineria) of North America.
The Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) is a waterfowl species shelduck
genus Tadorna. It is widespread and common in Eurasia, mainly breeding
in temperate and wintering in subtropical regions; in winter, it can
also be found in the Maghreb.
Its scientific name comes from Celtic roots and means "pied waterfowl",
essentially the same as the English "shelduck".
This is a bird which breeds in temperate Eurasia. Most populations
to subtropical areas in winter, but this species
is largely resident in westernmost Europe, apart from movements to
favoured moulting grounds, such as the Wadden Sea
on the north German coast.
The Common Shelduck is common around the coastline of Great Britain
(where it is simply known as Shelduck),
where it frequents salt marshes and estuaries. Sightings of this bird
are rare in North America and are reported as infrequent
visitors to the U.S. and Canada.
|The Common Shelduck resembles a small short-necked goose in
size and shape.
It is a striking bird, with a reddish-pink bill, pink feet,
a white body with chestnut patches and a black belly,
and a dark green head and neck.
The wing coverts are white, the primary remiges black, and the
secondaries green (only showing in flight) and chestnut.
The underwings are almost entirely white. Sexes are similar,
but the female is smaller, with some white facial markings,
while the male is particularly crisply colored in the breeding
season, his bill bright red and bearing a prominent knob at
The Common Shelduck finds its food in shallow water along the coast.
Most if its diet consists of a small Hydrobia-snail, which it finds
by filtering the mud.
The Common Shelduck arrive to their breedingplaces around March-April.
During the winter most of the
european population of about 100.000 birds, meet at
in the German Bay. .
The Großer Knechtsand
is a large sandbank beyond the
Weser and Elbe estuaries (in the Elbe-Weser Triangle).
The central area of the sandbank lies above the high water mark, forming
the Hochsand of Hoher Knechtsand,
which was formerly an island.
The Hoher Knechtsand measures 2.5 km in an east-west direction
and is between 600 metres wide in the west and 1.6 km wide
in the east. The area of the sandbank above the high water mark
is about 2.6 km².
The Großer Knechtsand, together with the island of Trischen,
is one of the most important moulting areas for the shelduck,
and, with Trischen, Norderoog and Minsener Oog, has one of the largest
and longest-lasting colonies of Sandwich Terns.
Eider duck and common seal also occur here in large numbers.
Ruddy Shelduck, Tadorna
ferruginea, No: Rustand
Rode casarca German: Rostgans French: Casarca roux Español:
Ruddy Shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea, is a member of the duck,
goose and swan family Anatidae. It is in the shelduck subfamily
Tadorninae. In India it is known as the Brahminy Duck.
There are very small resident populations of this species
in north west Africa and Ethiopia, but the main breeding area
of this species is from south east Europe across central Asia
to southeast China. These birds are mostly migratory,
wintering in southern Asia.
.Although becoming quite rare in southeast Europe and southern
Spain, the Ruddy Shelduck is still common across
much of its Asian range. It may be this population which gives
rise to vagrants as far west as Iceland, Great Britain
and Ireland. However, since the European population is declining,
it is likely that most occurrences in western Europe
in recent decades are escapes or feral birds. Although this
bird is observed in the wild from time to time in eastern
America, no evidence of a genuine vagrant has been found.
This is a bird of open country, and it will breed on cliffs, in
burrows, tree holes or crevices distant from water, laying 6-16
creamy-white eggs, incubated for 30 days. The Ruddy Shelduck is
usually found in pairs or small groups and rarely forms
large flocks. However, moulting and wintering gatherings on chosen
lakes or slow rivers can be very large.
shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea - Overview
BBC Natural History Unit
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea at Slimbridge Wildfowl and
Wetlands Centre, Gloucestershire, England.The Ruddy
Shelduck is a distinctive species, 5870 cm long with
a 110135 cm wingspan. It has orange-brown body plumage
a paler head. The wings are white with black flight feathers.
It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose
a duck. The sexes of this striking species are similar, but
the male has a black ring at the bottom of the neck in the
season summer, and the female often has a white face patch.
The call are is a loud wild honking.
In captivity this species is generally aggressive and antisocial
and is best housed in pairs unless in a very large area.
Then it may mix with other species, although it will still
be feisty at breeding time.
couple, near Hannover, Germany, Nov. 2009.
Photo: Michael Gäbler
The genus name Tadorna comes from Celtic roots and means "pied
waterfowl", essentially the same as the English "shelduck".
In Tibet and Mongolia, Ruddy Shelduck is considered sacred by the
Buddhists. It is also a sacred animal in Slavic mythology.
In Hindi and Urdu (India/Pakistan) it is called Surkhab
South African Shelduck, Cape Shelduck, Tadorna
Grijskop casarca / Kaapse casarca German: Graukopfkasarka French:
Tadorne du Cap / Casarca du Cap
Cape Shelduck or South African Shelduck, Tadorna cana, is a
species of shelduck, a group of large goose-like birds
which are part of the bird family Anatidae, which also includes
the swans, geese and ducks. The Anatidae article should
be referred to for an overview of this group of birds.
This is a 64 cm long bird which breeds in southern Africa,
mainly in Namibia and South Africa. In the southern winter,
many birds move north-east from the breeding range to favoured
moulting grounds, where sizable concentrations occur.
This species is mainly associated with lakes and rivers in
fairly open country, breeding in disused mammal holes, usually
those of the Aardvark.
Adult Cape Shelduck have ruddy bodies and wings strikingly
marked with black, white and green. The male has a grey
head, and the female has a white face and black crown, nape
and neck sides.
The genus name Tadorna comes from Celtic roots and
means "pied waterfowl", essentially the same as
Duck, Dec. 2006
Photo: Marieke Kuijpers
|This species is partially migratory
over much of its range with substantial numbers of individuals
movements related to the availability of water and moulting.
Between November and December adult birds migrate
distances to congregate in flocks of around 400 to as many as
5,000 on large deep water lakes to undergo a flightless
The species then disperses in single pairs to breed between
May and September, although large flocks of non-breeding pairs
and single females may also occur at this time. Outside breeding
and moulting seasons the species gathers in smaller flocks
of several hundred birds. The species is both a diurnal and
During the breeding season this species inhabits small, permanent,
shallow freshwater and brackish lakes, pools in river courses,
rivers and exposed inland mud flats, in both upland and lowland
areas of open country. In the non-breeding season the species
prefers deep freshwater lakes, artificial reservoirs, salt pans,
sewage works and shallow brackish pans. It may also be found
away from water in natural grassland, Karoo veld, fynbos, ploughed
land, stubble and fields of crops. This species requires
large, deep freshwater lakes, reservoirs and dense swamps on
which to undergo a post-breeding wing-moult.
BirdLife International (2010)
Species factsheet: Tadorna cana.
Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/11/2010.
tadornoides, No: Praktrustand
Shelduck, female. Jan. 2008
The Australian Shelduck, Tadorna tadornoides, is a shelduck, a group
of large goose-like birds which are part of the bird family
Anatidae, which also includes the swans, geese and ducks. The Anatidae
article should be referred to for an overview
of this group of birds.
This is a bird which breeds in southern Australia and Tasmania.
In the southern winter, many birds move further north than the
breeding range. As with other shelducks, this species has favoured
moulting grounds, such as Lake George, NSW,
where sizeable concentrations occur.
This species is mainly associated with lakes in fairly open country,
breeding in tree holes, holes in banks or similar.
Shelduck, male. Jan. 2008
Photo: Martin Pot
The male is largely blackish, with a chestnut breast, white neck
collar and dark green head. The female is similar, but has
white around the eye. Both sexes, like most shelducks, show large
white wing patches in flight. They are Protected under
the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974.
The genus name Tadorna comes from Celtic roots and means "pied
waterfowl", essentially the same as the English "shelduck".
Shelduck, Tadorna tadornoides. Perth, Australia.
Photo: Ben Eenhoorn
The Australian Shelduck can be found
in south western and south eastern parts of Australia. It is a vagrant
(only occasionally seen) north to the Kimberley region of Western
Australia and in Central Australia.
The Australian Shelduck prefers fresh waters and if in saltwater
habitat, needs to be within easy reach of fresh water.
Size is minimum 56 cm, maximum 72 cm. Average weight: 1500 g. Breeding
season: July to December.
After breeding some migrate
long distances to particular large wetlands such as Lake George,
Australian Captial Territory,
and the Coorong, South Australia, to moult flight and tail feathers.
The Australian Shelduck grazes on green grass on land or in shallow
water. It also eats algae, insects and molluscs.
The nest of the Australian Shelduck is usually in a large tree hollow,
well lined with down. They have also been known to
breed in rabbit burrows and in large hollows on cliff faces . Flightless
downy young may gather in creches.
Only the female Australian Shelduck incubates the eggs, while the
male defends the brood territory.
This species is monogamous and some birds are known to create permanent
male is black with a buffy-chestnut breast and a white ring round
The female is similar but the breast is a richer chestnut and it
has a white eye-ring and white at the base of the bill.
In the photo, the female is on the right.
Unlike other Australian ducks, the Australian Shelduck often flies
in long lines or in a 'V' formation
Other names of the Australian shelduck are Chestnut-breasted
Shelduck or Mountain Shelduck. The male has a metallic
black head and neck, white ring seperates chestnut breast
and mantle; the upper back, scapulars and abdomen are black,
finely lined with buff or white; the tail, lower back and
rump are black. Bill, legs and feet are black as well. Females
often smaller and much duller than males, with white patch
around eye and white ring at the base of the bill.
They range south-western and south-eastern Australia, Tasmania,
where they live on freshwater and brackish lakes.
In aviculture it is a common species, which breeds in half-buried
nestboxes, as the other shelducks do as well.
In the wild they breed from June to September; in captivity
from May to July. Adults breed when they are two to three
years old and lay 8 up to 14 eggs, which hatch after 30 days.
They can be aggressive during the breeding season
(and even kill other ducks and geese), therefore it would
be wise to house pairs seperate from other species.
by Dan Cowell at Jan Harteman
(white head, chestnut body) at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellington,
Photo: Michael Hamilton
The Paradise Shelduck, Tadorna variegata, is a large goose-like
duck endemic to New Zealand. They are known to the
Maori as Putangitangi but now commonly referred to as the "Paradise
duck", and are prized game birds. Both the male and
female have striking plumage, the male has a black head and barred
black body, the female a white head with a chestnut body.
The Paradise Shelducks usually live as pairs, grazing on grass
and weeds, and will raid crops, particularly when molting.
Female with six chicks on Opunake Beach, New ZealandParadise Shelducks
form long-term pair bonds, often lasting for life,
and defend territories. They have a long breeding season which is
between August through December.
They reach sexual maturity after two years, and build nests lined
with grass and feathers hidden in high grass, hollow trees
or beneath rotting logs. The mean clutch size is around nine eggs.
Chicks fledge after eight weeks.
(black head, barred black body) at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary,
Photo: Michael Hamilton
Before Europeans settled in New Zealand the Maori hunted Paradise
Shelducks in favoured districts. Hunting was done outside
the breeding season when the birds were molting and could not fly.
During the breeding season hunting them was forbidden.
This conservation and selective hunting system ensured good supplies
Paradise Shelducks were uncommon prior to European settlement,
however changes to habitat caused by the conversion
of forest to pasture, and the deliberate provisioning on ponds by
hunting groups, has led to a large increase in the numbers
of these ducks.
Paradise Shelduck, took her six small ducklings out
into the shallows of Opunake Beach, New Zealand. Oct. 2008
Photo: Dave Young
the paradise shelduck, is endemic to New Zealand, that is it
is found nowhere else in the world.
It was discovered first by Captain Cook at Dusky Sound in 1773
during his second voyage. Cook called it the Painted
Duck. They were not a common bird before settlement by Europeans
but are now one of the endemic birds which has
prospered with the conversion of native forest to pasture. They
have increased greatly in numbers through this century
and are now only partially protected.
They mainly graze on grass and weeds, or standing crops of peas
or grain which can mean they often get on the wrong
side of farmers, especially when they flock, sometimes in very
large numbers, during the moulting season between
December and February.
Most paradise duck start breeding when 2 years old and pairs
remain together from year to year, returning to the same
Usually the nest is placed on the ground well hidden beneath
a log or clumps of grass, but occasionally it is built in a
nesting area. If one bird dies, its mate occupies the same
territory and re-mates again.
fifteen to twenty feet above the ground. The nest is made of
grass and lined with down plucked from the ducks own body.
cristata, Koreagravand, Crested Shelduck. possibly
extinct (late 20th century?)
drawing of Tadorna cristata
The Crested Shelduck
or Korean Crested Shelduck, Tadorna cristata, is a species
of bird in the family Anatidae.
It is critically endangered and believed by some to be extinct.
The male Crested Shelduck has a greenish-black crown,
breast, primaries, and tail, while the rest of its face, chin,
and throat are brownish black. The male's belly, undertail
and flanks are a dark grey with black striations. The upper
wing coverts are white, while its speculum is an iridescent
The female has a white eye ring, black crest, white face,
chin, throat, neck, and uppers wing coverts and a dark brown
body with white striations. Both sexes also have a distinctive
green tuft of feathers protruding from the head.
Very little is known about this bird because of the limited
number of observations of this species. It apparently bred
Korea and eastern Russia and was probably a relict species
that had a wider distribution in prehistoric times.
Some think that this species is extinct, although occasional
sightings are reported, including a number of recent reports
from the interior wetlands of China. Due to the persistent
reports of the species' survival, it is listed as critically
endangered. However, it has not been definitively sighted
|The Crested Shelduck is sexually dimorphic, with
the male having a greenish-black crown, breast, primaries, and
while the rest of its face, chin, and throat are brownish black.
The male's belly, undertail coverts, and flanks are a dark
grey with black striations. The upper wing coverlets are white,
while its speculum is an iridescent green.
The female has a white eye ring, black crest, white face, chin,
throat, neck, and upper wing coverts. It also has a dark
brown body with white striations. Both sexes have a green tuft
of feathers protruding from their head.
The Crested Shelduck is about 63 to 71 centimetres long and
slightly larger than a Mallard. Its wingspan is about
31 to 32 centimetres. Its bill and legs are pinkish, though
those of the female are paler than those of the male.
The plumage of the immature is unknown.
The Crested Shelduck has been collected near Vladivostok
in Russia and near Fusan and Kunsan in Korea.
It has been proposed that the species breeds in far-eastern
Russia, northern North Korea, and northeast China and
winters in southern Japan, southwest Korea, and along the
east China coast as far south as Shanghai.
This species is believed to live in a wide variety of wetland
and deep-water habitats at varying elevations.
While all collected individuals are from the coast, especially
near river mouths, recently there have been a number
of reports from interior wetlands in northeastern China. It
has been speculated that this species may breed in
mountainous areas either away from water or on volcanic lakes.
Though not much is known about this shelduck, it is believed
migratory, traveling from Siberia in the breeding
season to Korea, southern Russia, and Japan for the winter.
The Crested Shelduck is believed to eat aquatic vegetation,
agricultural crops, algae, invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans,
carrion, and garbage. It has been suggested that this
shelduck may be a nocturnal feeder. While its nest has not
been described, similar shelducks nest in burrows and cavities
and it has also been suggested that this species may nest
in tree cavities. The bird is also suggested to lay less than
eggs which the female alone incubates. It is believed to breed
from May to July.The shelduck has been observed
in flocks of two to eight birds.
The Crested Shelduck was never numerous in modern times,
though it is thought to have been more widespread
historically. The species is known from only a handful of
sightings and some declared it extinct in 1916 after a
female was shot at Busan, South Korea. In 1943, a sighting
of this bird was reported near Chushinhokudo,
building hopes that the species persisted. A group of three
birds was sighted in 1964 in the Rimsky-Korsakov
Archipelago near Vladivostok with a small flock of Harlequin
Ducks. In 1971 it was reported from North Korea's
northeast coast and in 1985 two were reported from eastern
Russia. However, there are severe doubts about the
accuracy of the 1971 record. A recent survey of Chinese hunters
resulted in a number of unconfirmed reports from
northeastern China. There are also unconfirmed reports of
about twenty Crested Shelducks in the Dashanbao
region of Yunnan, though many believe this flock to be a misidentified
flock of Ruddy Shelducks.
It is believed that, if the species survives, there likely
are fewer than 50 individuals.
This species is threatened with extinction due to habitat
loss, hunting, and overcollecting. Recently, a Chinese forest
worker claimed that he unknowingly ate two in 1984. In an
attempt to gather reports of this species and raise
awareness so that they are not eaten, 300,000 leaflets were
distributed in Russia, Japan, China, South Korea, and
North Korea in 1983, with the only resulting report being
the 1971 North Korea record. 15,000 leaflets were
distributed in northeastern China in 1985 and 1991. While
this garnered 82 reports of the species, follow-up surveys
of the area failed to find the shelduck.
Shelduck Tadorna radjah at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, England.
T. r. radjah (Black-backed Shelduck)
T. r. rufitergum (Burdekin Duck)
Shelduck, Tadorna radjah
Photo by Radomil
The Raja Shelduck or Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) (in
Australia also known as Burdekin Duck) is a species of shelduck.
Both the male and female of the species are mostly white,
with dark wingtips and a distinctive "collar" of
Seen from above in flight, the birds have green bands on the
tops of their wings. The female has a harsh rattle and the
male has a breathy, sore-throat whistle.
The Rajh Shelduck inhabits the mangrove forests and coastline
of New Guinea and Australia. In Australia, its primary
range is coastal tropical northern Australia, from central
Queensland through northern Northern Territory
(including Kakadu National Park) to the Kimberley in Western
The species prefers the brackish waters of mangrove flats
and paperbark tree swamps, but will visit freshwater swamps,
lagoons, and billabongs further inland during the wet season.
The Radjah Shelduck forms long-term pair-bonds, and is usually
encountered in lone pairs or small flocks.
During the wet season the males commonly become very irritable,
and have been observed attacking their mates.
The diet consists mainly of mollusks, insects, sedge materials
and algae. Pairs start searching for nesting sites during
months of January and February. They nest close to their primary
food source, often in the hollow limbs of trees,
which makes habitat destruction a particular issue.
Radjah Shelduck does not use nesting materials except for
some self-supplied down feathers. Egg-laying is usually done
by May or June, but depends on the extent of the wet season.
The clutches range from 6 to 12 eggs. Incubation time is
about 30 days.
The Raja Shelduck is listed as a protected bird in all states
of Australia and penalties exist for harming or disturbing