Fun Shelduck Facts For Kids

Tanya Parkhi
Feb 29, 2024 By Tanya Parkhi
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Here are some shelduck facts that you will love reading.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.3 Min

The shelduck (scientific name Tadorna) is a type of aquatic duck that can be found living around coastal areas and large inland water bodies. There are seven species of shelduck, with the most recognizable of these being the common shelduck (Tadorna) which can be found in Britain and Ireland. Shelducks are known for their goose-like appearance, dark green head, and bright red bill. These ducks can usually be sighted in large, noisy flocks around their area of nesting.

Depending on species to species, these birds inhabit quite different areas of the world. For example, the common shelduck is mostly found only in Europe, whereas the ruddy shelduck can be seen in the Indian subcontinent and the Australian shelduck in Australia. Being migratory birds, they do fly to warmer, more comfortable habitats in the winter, however, they live in their original habitat for the majority of the year.

Continue reading to learn more about how this eye-catching duck. For more relatable content, check out these harlequin duck facts and crested duck facts for kids.

Shelduck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a shelduck?

The shelduck (Tadorna) is a kind of aquatic bird that can be found near large bodies of water.

What class of animal does a shelduck belong to?

The shelduck is an aquatic bird and belongs to the class of Aves.

How many shelducks are there in the world?

There are seven types of shelducks that can be found in the wild. These are the common shelduck, ruddy shelduck, crested shelduck, paradise shelduck, Cape shelduck, radjah shelduck, and the Australian shelduck.

With the exception of the crested shelduck which is considered Critically Endangered, all of these species are of Least Concern according to the Birdlife International IUCN Red List. Their numbers are abundantly available in the wild.

Where does a shelduck live?

They are aquatic birds and can usually be found in water bodies such as lakes, ponds, and rivers. They are migrating ducks, usually found in subtropical regions such as India or North America during winter, and cooler regions such as Central Asia and Europe during the peak breeding season.

What is a shelduck's habitat?

The common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) prefers to make its home around large, open bodies of water such as reservoirs and lakes. The shelduck habitat shifts to slow-flowing river beds during the breeding season.

Who do shelducks live with?

The common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) forms long-term pairs for breeding. They live and nest with their partners when they are of breeding age. Ducks that are not of breeding age yet, under two to three years of age, group together in a flock until they form mated pairs, or continue to do so if they cannot find a partner.

How long does a shelduck live?

Shelducks have a lifespan of around 10-20 years, with the average age being around 12-13 years.

How do they reproduce?

Shelducks are oviparous in nature, meaning they lay eggs out of which their young hatch. Breeding commonly takes place from the end of April to June, during warm weather. The pair usually nests in an abandoned burrow or hollow tree trunk around the vicinity of a water body, where the female lays around eight to 10 eggs. These are then incubated by her for a period of 10 weeks, after which the ducklings hatch.

What is their conservation status?

The crested shelduck bird is currently Critically Endangered in the wild and conservation efforts have been implemented to protect this species. All other species of this bird have a status of Least Concern according to the IUCN Red List.

Shelduck Fun Facts

What do shelducks look like?

The shelduck is a medium-sized bird. All shelducks share a common color scheme of dark brown, chestnut, white, black, dark green, and brownish-orange. However, their appearance varies from species to species. The common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) has a white body with chestnut brown bands around its chest and body, with black feathers on its wings and underside. This duck has a dark green head and neck and a bright red bill. All other shelducks have black beaks, with the exception of the rajdah shelduck which has a white one. Females are usually smaller than males, and there may be minor differences in appearance between the two such as facial markings. Shelducklings usually lack the colorful plumage their parents sport and instead have grayish-brown feathers.

The ruddy shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea, is one of the sub-species of shelducks.

How cute are they?

Displaying bright, colorful plumage and fluffy feathers, these ducks look very cute.

How do they communicate?

The shelduck communicates with a series of honks which can be quite loud. A group of these birds will definitely drown out everything else around them with their loud, honking calls.

How big is a shelduck?

The common shelduck is said to be similar in size to ducks, geese, or coots. They are medium in size and measure 22.8-26.4 in (58-67 cm) from beak to tail, and have a wingspan of about 44 in (112 cm).

How fast can a shelduck fly?

Being aquatic ducks, shelducks are mostly land or water-borne. However, when the time comes to migrate, the shelduck has to fly at great speeds, though we do not have any official record of its exact speed.

How much does a shelduck weigh?

This average shelduck size can range anywhere from 30-53 oz (850.5-1,500 g), with the female duck being smaller than the male.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male duck is  called a drake or sheldrake, whereas a female is simply called a hen.

What would you call a baby shelduck?

A baby shelduck is called a duckling, hatchling, or shelduckling.

What do they eat?

A shelduck diet is omnivorous in nature. They usually feast on aquatic insects and fish such as snails, worms, shrimp, and small aquatic plants.

Are they dangerous?

B0th male and female shelducks are particularly hostile and territorial during the breeding season. They use loud, angry calls and aggressive movements to keep intruders out of their nesting areas, even considering other members of their species as threats.  The male shelduck, or sheldrake, is said to be aggressive all year round.

Would they make a good pet?

Due to their extremely aggressive and territorial behavior towards outsiders, shelducks are not suitable as pets as they are wild birds. Due to this, it's best to leave these ducks alone in their natural habitat.

Did you know...

Though the crested shelduck has been listed as Critically Endangered, it is thought to be extinct in the wild with no official sightings having being recorded since 1964.

A shelduck is indeed a type of duck. Despite being called goose-like, it has a distinct duck-shaped head and red bill.

Though the shelduck population is increasing in many areas, they still face a variety of threats such as illegal poaching, snatching of their eggs by other wild animals, and habitat loss due to contamination of water bodies and development.

Why is it called shelduck?

Named after its beautiful and rustic color palette, the word 'shelduck' originates from the Dutch word 'sheld', meaning 'having a mix of colors and patterns'. Some also speculate that they are named due to their diet of shellfish, however, the former explanation has been proven to be more widely accepted.

Where do shelducks migrate to?

Different species of shelducks migrate to different parts of the world depending on the season. The common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) which is mostly found in colder areas such as England and Ireland, usually spends its breeding season here. Come winter, when the fledglings are grown enough to fly,  this bird tends to migrate to warmer, subtropical regions such as northern Africa until the cold passes and it can return to its primary home. This migrating pattern is true for all shelducks, who shift to warmer areas once winter sets in, and return to the cooler areas in time for the summer breeding period.

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 Muscovy duck surprising facts and roseate spoonbill interesting facts pages.

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

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Written by Tanya Parkhi

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya Parkhi picture

Tanya ParkhiBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.

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