Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Tadorna / Species
< >  Tadorna tadorna - Common 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)

Northern shelduck
Red-billed shelduck
Shelduck
Sheldrake
Common sheldrake
Brandgans (German)
Tadorne de Belon (French)
Oca común (Spanish)
Tarro blanco (Spanish)
Bergeend (Dutch)
Gravand (Swedish)
Tadorna cornuata

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

Eclipse.

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B2, B3, B4, B8, B19, B25, B26, B27.

Other references:
B138

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w7
B7, B29, B30, B31, B40, B95, B97, B108, B128.w1, B128.w2, B129
D1, D8

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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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:

  • Common shelduck are generally cold-hardy, although an enclosed dry area may be required in places with prolonged severe frosts. A large paddock with good grass and an extensive water area recommended. This species is less aggressive than most of the other shelducks, but they can be aggressive while breeding - may fight other males if more than one pair are kept, and harass other birds coming too close to their mate. They may sometimes require separate pen while breeding, or should be in a large enclosure. Grain, pellets and bread should supplement grazing
  • These shelduck are easy to breed. Artificial 'earth-burrow' nest boxes with drainpipe entrance should be provided; they may also use a kennel, wigwam or surface-level box. Eggs are usually laid April to May. They are often reliable incubators, with both parents tending ducklings; parent rearing is straightforward if ample natural food is available. Hand rearing also easy on starter crumbs and green food such as duckweed, with access to short grass once the ducklings are a few days old.
  • Hybridisation occurs with other Tadorna spp., and has also been reported with Alopochen aegyptiacus - Egyptian goose, Somateria mollissima - Common eider, Anas platyrhynchos - Mallard.

(J23.13.w7, B7, B29, B30, B31, B40, B94, B95, B97, B108, B128.w2, B129, D1).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: N 13.0mm (D8).

Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 24-25 inches, 61-63cm (B1, B3).
Adult weight General 801-1450g (B1).
Male 0.98-1.45kg (B3); mean 2.6 lbs. (B8).
Female 0.8-1.25kg (B3); mean 2.0 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Red, with bulge at base.
Variations (If present) No basal enlargement in females.
Eyes (Iris) Male Brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Greyish-pink.
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

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Legs

Adult Male Dark pink.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Greyish-pink.

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Plumage

Adult Male Head and neck glossy green-black. Lower neck white, breast band (continuing over mantle) chestnut. Underparts white except central abdomen black band, undertail coverts rusty.

Upperparts white with scapulars and tail-tip black.

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

Variations (If present) Female: white feathers near bill. Duller, narrower breast band and abdomen stripe.

Eclipse/non-breeding: both sexes duller, with breast band less clear and more white on head.

Juvenile Generally white ventrally, grey dorsally, with white cheeks and throat. Wings similar to adult but greyish not pure white coverts, and white tips to secondaries.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: White with black dorsal markings and down onto thighs, white behind bill, small black spot on ear coverts. Bill: Grey.
Feet: Grey.

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins April/May.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

In rabbit burrows and hollow trees, also sometimes in bushes, bases of haystacks and walls. Nest of grass, moss and bracken lines with down.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 8-10 (B1).
Range 3-12 (B1); 8-15 (B8). As many as 50 by dump-nesting.
Egg Description Creamy-white. Size: 65-47mm, weight: 78g.

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Incubation

29-31 days (B1, B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

About 45-50 days (B1); 40-45 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males May not be until Four to five years old.
Females Two years old.

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Forage particularly in the inter-tidal zone. Dig, scythe and dabble on mud, head-dip and upend in shallow water.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Nest as solitary pairs or in small groups.
Incubation By female, but may occasionally be assisted by male.
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents and led to nursery areas.
Juveniles

Broods join from about 2-3 weeks old to form crèches of up to 100 ducklings, with most adults then deserting the ducklings. Ducklings brood each other at night.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Generally gregarious, but territorial while breeding.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Usually strong, permanent pair bonds.

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Predation in Wild

--

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Activity Patterns

Adults gather in huge flocks to moult.
Circadian Foraging pattern depends on tides, therefore day or night feeding.

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Natural Diet

Adults

Aquatic invertebrates: prefer salt-water snail Hydrobia ulvae, particularly in NW Europe, also small fish, spawn, worms, and plants.

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Newly-hatched

--

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal
  • Ireland and Britain, across north western Europe, through Mediterranean, through central Asia, east to north-east China, south to Iran and Afghanistan.

    • In London: In the London Area, "decreasing breeding resident on Lower Thames, regular visitor to major inland waters where it breeds in small numbers." (J322.65.w1)

  • Movements are to moulting areas and, for higher-latitude and inland populations, south to lower latitudes for winter.
  • Many birds (100,000) from north-west Europe gather from July to September in the Waddenzee area off the German coast to moult.
  • Winters as far south as north Africa, Iraq, India, Burma, southern China and Japan
Occasional and Accidental

Accidental to Iceland Faeroes, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Kuwait, Libya.

Introduced

--

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Habitat

Coastal mudflats and estuaries, some on inland waters.

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

--

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Widespread and abundant (B1).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Moulting congregations vulnerable to oil spills.

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Captive Populations

Common in collections (B8).

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Trade

--

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