Shelduck

Scientific name: Tadorna tadorna

Did you know: The Shelduck, a colourful and distinctive bird, often nests in unusual places, including old rabbit burrows, tree holes, and even haystacks!

What Do Shelducks Look Like? (how to identify them)

Shelducks stand out with their vibrant and unique appearance. They’re larger than your typical mallard but smaller than a goose. These birds boast a dark green head and neck, complemented by a chestnut belly stripe. Their red bill adds a dash of bright colour, making them easily identifiable.

Differences Between Male And Female Shelducks

While male and female Shelducks share similar colouration, there are subtle differences. The male Shelduck, especially during the breeding season, displays more vivid colours. His bill turns a brighter red and features a noticeable knob on the forehead. 

Females, on the other hand, are generally smaller and have distinct white facial markings.

What Do Shelducks Eat?

Shelducks have a diverse diet consisting primarily of invertebrates, small shellfish, and aquatic snails. Their foraging habits lead them to muddy estuaries and coastal marshes, where they can find these delicacies.

Where Do Shelducks Live? (inc. migration info)

Shelducks are commonly found around the UK’s coastline, especially in salt marshes and estuaries. They are adaptable birds, also inhabiting farmlands, wetlands, and grasslands. 

While many migrate to subtropical regions in winter, some populations remain in westernmost Europe, showcasing their adaptability to different environments.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Shelducks)

The Shelduck’s call is a loud and unmistakable honk, a distinct sound in their natural habitats. This vocalisation plays a vital role in their communication, especially during mating and territorial displays.

Fun Shelduck Facts (kid friendly)

  • Shelducks can be as big as some geese, making them one of the larger duck species.
  • They often nest in old rabbit burrows – quite an unusual choice for a duck!
  • In flight, their wings show a beautiful pattern of white, green, and chestnut.
  • The Shelduck’s diet is quite varied, ranging from snails to small fish.
  • These ducks are known for their loud honk, which can be heard over long distances.
  • Shelducks are great at adapting to different environments, from coastal areas to inland waters.
  • The male Shelduck’s bill turns a brighter red during the breeding season.
  • They are part of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds.
  • Shelducks have been known to form large moulting flocks, sometimes numbering in the thousands.
  • During winter, Shelduck populations in north-west England are particularly significant, reflecting their adaptation to various habitats.

Shelduck Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Shelduck

Diet: Invertebrates, small shellfish and aquatic snails.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 58-65 cm
Wingspan: 1.1-1.33 m
Weight: 0.85-1.4 kg
Scientific Name: Tadorna tadorna

The Shelduck Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December