Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Tadorna / Species
< > Tadorna cana - South African shelduck (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

African Shelduck
Cape Shelduck
Gray-headed Shelduck
Grey-headed Shelduck
Tadorne à tête grise (French)
Casarca du Cap (French)
Oca Sud Africana (Spanish)
Graukopfkasarka (German)
Tarro Sudafricano (Spanish)
Casarca cana

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B4, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w7
B7, B29, B31, B40, B94, B97, B128.w1, B128.w2
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

General information:
  • Shelducks are generally hardy. Their pen should contain short grass for grazing, and they appreciate a degree of cover. Minimum enclosure size suggested for a pair of shelduck is 100 square metres.
  • They tend to be aggressive particularly in the breeding season, and may even kill small ducks, and a separate enclosure is usually required. There is some species-based and individual variation in degree of aggression.
  • Most species prefer to use a partially-buried nest box with a tunnel entrance, usually in the form of a drain pipe. A suggested nest box size is 12x12x14 inches (30x30x40cm), with a six inch (15cm) diameter entrance tunnel drain pipe, or 6x6 inches (15x15cm) square entrance tunnel, minimum 12 inches (30cm) long. Ground-level nest boxes with a six-inch (15cm) diameter entrance hole may also be used.

(B29, B40, B94, B128.w1,D1)

Species-specific information:

  • South African shelduck (Cape shelduck) are winter-hardy. A good area of water is required, also aquatic plants suck as duckweed and other greens for feeding, plus e.g. wheat. They may be aggressive, particularly when breeding, when a separate enclosure is recommended.
  • These shelducks are easy to breed, usually nesting in a buried nest box with drainpipe entrance, but they may also use a kennel or wigwam, or a ground-level box. They usually lay eggs April to May. Ducklings are hardy, and appreciate duckweed as well as other feed.
  • Hybridisation occurs with other Tadorna spp. and has also been reported with Alopochen aegyptiacus - Egyptian goose (B31).

(J23.13.w7, B7, B29, B31, B94, B97, B128.w2, D1).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: P 14.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 24-26 inches, 61-66cm (B3, B1).
Adult weight General About 1400-1750g (B1).
Male Average 1.76kg (B3); mean 3.4 lbs. (B8).
Female Average 1.41kg (B3); mean 2.7 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Black
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Black.
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

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Legs

Adult Male Black.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Black.

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Plumage

Adult Male Head and neck grey. Breast, abdomen, ventral area and undertail coverts cinnamon, flanks finely vermiculated cinnamon and black. Upperparts cinnamon. Tail and rump black.

Wings have white coverts, chestnut tertials, metallic green secondaries, black primaries.

Variations (If present) Female slightly darker, with a white patch around the eye (can be extensive).
Juvenile Paler, duller, with brownish edges to upper wing coverts

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Underparts and forehead white, upperparts dark brown with white patches on wings and back.
Bill: Dark grey
Feet: Dark grey.

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year In the dry season, begins June/July.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

Cavities including old burrows, lining of grasses, down and feathers.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 10 (B1)
Range 1-15 (B1); 10-15 (B8).
Egg Description Creamy. Size: 70 x 50mm, weight: 83g.

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Incubation

30 days (B1, B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

About ten weeks (B1); 63-70 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Grazes on land, dabbles and head-dips in shallow water, scythes on mudflats
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building As solitary pairs.
Incubation By female only
Newly-hatched Protected by both parents.
Juveniles

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Territorial in the breeding season, otherwise gregarious, particularly during the moulting period.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Pair bonds are strong and continue outside the breeding season: possibly permanent.

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

Fly from roosting sites at dusk and back at dawn to rest and preen
Circadian Mainly nocturnal.

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Natural Diet

Adults

Basically vegetarian in the dry season, with grain and algae the main foods. Seeds, insect larvae and crustaceans are important the rest of the year.

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Newly-hatched

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal

Southern Africa, from central Namibia and southern Botswana southwards.

Seasonal local movements to moult and with water availability

Occasional and Accidental

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Introduced

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Habitat

Open country on fresh and brackish shallow waters; deeper waters when moulting.

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Not considered threatened. Population relatively small (42, 000 estimated total) but appears stable (B1).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

Well established in collections (B8).

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Trade

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