Common Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna

Length 1.7-2.0 ft (50.8-61.0 cm)
Wingspan 3.7-4.3 ft (111.8-132.1 cm)
Weight 2-3 lb (907.2-1360.8 g)
Clutch Size 8-12
Chicks at birth Precocial
IUCN Conservation Status Least Concern
Continents:EU, AF, AS

The Common Shelduck is a common bird that is widespread throughout Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. They are predominately white with a dark green head and neck and a chestnut breast-band. The wings coverts are white, the primaries are black, and the secondaries are green and chestnut colored. They have a black belly and their bills are red with pinkish red feet and legs. During the breeding season, the male's bill has a red knob at the base. The sexes are similar but the female is smaller and has white facial markings.

Common Shelducks have a large range and the population seems to be increasing. Thus, it is of 'Least Concern' for extinction.

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Diet: Common Shelducks eat salt-water molluscs and other invertebrates, small fish, and plant material such as algae, seeds and grain.

Courtship: Courtship behavior includes ritualized preening called Preening-behind-the-wing by both sexes.

Nesting: The Common Shelduck builds their nests in a variety of places such as caves, tree hollows, nest boxes, deserted burrows, etc. The nest is lined with downy feathers and the female lays 8-12 eggs. Both parents take care of the chicks.

Habitat and Range: Common Shelducks prefer saline habitats such as mudflats and estuaries in coastal areas and saline or brackish lakes in steppe or semi-desert areas. They will also occupy freshwater rivers or marshes. They are found throughout Europe, Asian and some winter in Northern Africa and southern parts of Asia.

Vocalization: The male produces melodious and high-pitched whistling sounds.

Plumage/Molt Common Shelducks molt annually after the breeding season. During this time (25-31 days) they are flightless and will form large flocks of up to 100,000 individuals.

Migration: Most Common Shelduck migrate to southern Asia, Europe and North Africa during winter. This is less true for the European populations who tend to be resident all year.

Tongue/feet: Legs and feet are a pinkish red.


  • The Free Encyclopedia, Accessed June 2012
  • BirdLife International, Accessed June 2012
  • Johnsgard, Paul, Handbook of Waterfowl Behavior: Tribe Tadornini (Sheldgeese and Shelducks),University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1965

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