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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 12, 2021

21 Australian Shelduck Facts You’ll Never Forget

Read through for knowledge-filled Australian Shelduck facts.

For kids fascinated by shiny luminescent birds, the Australian Shelduck is a perfect match. This bird species is also known by a few other names, such as Chestnut-breasted shelduck, mountain duck, and sheldrake. They comprise the order of Anseriformes, which includes around 160 species of birds, especially waterfowls. They are categorized under the family of Anatidae like other water birds such as ducks, swans, and geese.

These birds of Australia have a dark-colored coat with a primarily black, tinged green and a prominent blackhead. Sometimes, they have a white ring around the base of their beak and a shoulder patch on their wings. Their habitat is mainly the wetlands of southern Australia, Tasmania, and rarely, in New Zealand. This bird is mostly seen feeding on aquatic flora and fauna. Their diet consists of green grass, mollusks, insects, and algae.

They migrate to molting grounds across Australia during the winter months, and large numbers occur at Lake George. During the breeding season, the female has a clutch size of 5-15 eggs which she incubates alone while the male guards the brooding territory.

If you want to catch up on more intriguing bird facts, take a look at the Sanderling and the Common Murre.

Australian Shelduck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Australian Shelduck?

The Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) is a species of bird from the order Anseriformes and genus Tadorna.

What class of animal does an Australian Shelduck belong to?

This black-head bird species belong to the Aves class.

How many Australian Shelducks are there in the world?

Although the Australian Shelduck range map is defined, the exact population of these birds is unknown. In addition, recent research has shown an increase in their population trend.

Where does an Australian Shelduck live?

This dark-colored bird has a large distribution in southern parts of Australia and Tasmania. During the winters, the majority of Australian Shelduck migration includes moving to wetlands to molt tail and flight feathers. These regions include parts of southern Australia such as the Coorong, Australian Capital Territory, and the most popular, Lake George.

What is an Australian Shelduck's habitat?

A massive distribution of this bird species is found in the freshwater habitat across Australia. These include wetlands, swamps, open woodlands, grasslands, pastureland, and inland lakes.

Who do Australian Shelducks live with?

Oftentimes, these birds, the Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides), are found in flocks of over a thousand birds. During the research, this pattern was mostly observed during the molting season. Similarly, these birds are monogamous and are known to have lifelong pair bonds.

How long does an Australian Shelduck live?

According to research, the Chestnut-breasted Shelduck has a lifespan of around 10-15 years.

How do they reproduce?

The Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) reaches its sexual maturity at two to three years of age, and its breeding season begins in July and ends by December. The Australian Shelduck male search for a mate by producing a loud honk-like grunt, to which the female replies with a high-pitched sound like 'ong-ank, ong-ank.' The Australian Shelduck female is dominant initially and takes on the responsibility of building the nest in the brooding territory. She chooses spots in hollow down-lined trees, shallow caves, and holes of rocks, cliffs, and banks. Sometimes, they also use rabbit borrows, limestone crevices, and salt marshes. The female has a clutch size of about 5-15 eggs which hatch after 30-33 days. The eggs are incubated only by the female while the male protects the female and brood territory.

What is their conservation status?

For the Australian Shelduck, the IUCN has approved the conservation status Least Concern.

Australian Shelduck Fun Facts

What do Australian Shelducks look like?

Covered in a colorful blanket, the Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) has brown eyes, and short ebony-black beak, and webbed feet. The male has a dark contrast with chestnut breast, teak black, tinged green on the head, back, and tail, and a white ring around its neck, which is sometimes seen at the base of its bill as well. The male also has a white shoulder patch on its wings, and the flight feathers range from black to glossy green. On the other hand, the female looks similar with its black head and white neck ring, but it flaunts a shaded plumage with a bright chestnut breast and upper mantle. The black parts of the female are brownish as compared to the males, and the ring is commonly narrow or absent. In females, a thick white rim borders the eyes and the base of the beak. The young Australian Shelduck lacks a white neck ring and has dull-shaded feathers.

Australian Shelducks have commonly been seen grazing on green grass.

How cute are they?

The Australian Shelduck beak is stubby and paired with its round head with large wings and body. They look purely adorable. The white neck ring looks like a collar, making these birds looks quite dashing.

How do they communicate?

The Australian Shelduck, like other birds of the Anatidae family, produces a range of grunts, honks, and whistles. The description of the male sound is a deeper honk-like noise while the female makes a resonant, high-pitched noise. In stressful situations, they also produce snake-like hisses to keep threats away.

How big is an Australian Shelduck?

The average size and weight of an adult Australian Shelduck are 22-29 in (55.8-73.6 cm), which is about the same size as the Ferruginous Hawk. In comparison, the Chestnut-breasted Shelduck is around twice as large as a Toucan.

How fast can a small Australian Shelduck fly?

The exact flight speed is unknown, but impressively, the Australian Shelduck wingspan ranges from 37-52 in (94-132 cm). However, most shelducks fly at an average speed of 30.64 mph (49.3 kph).

How much does an Australian Shelduck weigh?

The Australian Shelduck weight is measured around 2.8-3.3 lb (1.3-1.5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) do not have separate names. However, these birds are known by various other names such as Chestnut-breasted Shelduck, mountain duck, and Sheldrake.

What would you call a baby Australian Shelduck?

The young of these birds do not have a specific name description and are commonly referred to as a chick.

What do they eat?

The Australian Shelduck diet consists of aquatic flora and fauna such as whelk, algae, crabs, small fish, and insects and their larvae. In their natural habitat, they have observed grazing on green grass and feeding on seeds, vegetable crops, and tubers.

Are they rare?

Although the Australian Shelduck does not have a worldwide distribution, it is fairly common in South Australia. Additionally, these birds are showing an increase in their population size. Interestingly, this is because of water increased agricultural activity and irrigation across Australia.

Would they make a good pet?

Despite its appearance and white neck ring similarity to domestic ducks, this is a moderately large, wild bird species that is protective of its territory and meant to be free. Therefore, their diet is quite different, making them unsuitable as house pets.

Did you know...

Ducks have serrated beaks to help the feeding process by separating food particles from the water.

Although they look similar, this bird is differentiated from other ducks like mallards because of its bigger size.

When they find their mate during the breeding season, most of these large mountain ducks mate for life.

The Australian Shelduck eggs are bright white in color.

Even if they live near a saltwater lake habitat, they make sure there is a freshwater lake is within reach.

The young leave the nest site by swimming or walking only two days after hatching.

Unlike the Common Goldeneye, these are not diving birds. However, the young can free dive while the adults do so only if threatened or injured.

Is the Australian Shelduck endangered?

Research suggests that these large swimming birds are increasing in numbers. They are not famous game birds which also means that their population is not threatened by hunting. However, these birds are occasionally hunted down in Australia because their grazing habits can damage agricultural fields and crop yield.

Why are they called Shelduck?

There is no definite explanation about the Australian Shelduck name, but it is obvious that the name was coined because of its large distribution across Australia.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Australian Pelican facts and Glossy Ibis facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free Australian Shelduck coloring pages.

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