Common Shelduck


Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

The Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) is a shelduck from the family of water birds that includes ducks, geese, and swans (Anatidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
English name:
Common Shelduck
German name:
French name:
Tadorne de Belon
Scientific name:
Tadorna tadorna

Scientific classification




The common shelduck resembles a small short-necked goose in size and shape. It is a striking bird, with a reddish-pink bill, pink feet, a white body with chestnut patches and a black belly, and a dark green head and neck. The wing coverts are white, the primary remiges black, and the secondaries green (only showing in flight) and chestnut. The underwings are almost entirely white. Sexes are similar, but the female is smaller, with some white facial markings, while the male is particularly crisply coloured in the breeding season, his bill bright red and bearing a prominent knob at the forehead.

Ducklings are white, with black cap, hindneck and wing and back patches. Juveniles are similarly coloured, greyish above and mostly white below, but already have the adult's wing pattern.

Standard Measurements

Body Length (cm):
The male (drake) of the Common Shelduck measures approximately 58-67 centimeters. The female measures approximately 53-65 centimeters.
Body Weight (grams):
The male will weight about 1120-1240 gram. The female will weight about 1080-1210 gram.
The weight is notoriously variable and can only be used as indication!

All Shelducks are reasonably hardy, but shelter should be available in winter. Enclosure should contain grass for grazing; generally peaceable and may be kept in mixed collections with e.g. Anser spp. and large ducks; some individuals are seasonally aggressive and may require a separate enclosure. In general younger birds (less than three years old) may be less aggressive than older birds. In addition to grass, feeding with e.g. wheat and pellets suggested, also earthworms, insects and extra green food for breeding, with duckweed particularly for ducklings.

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 30x30x40cm, with a 15cm diameter entrance tunnel drain pipe, or 15x15cm square entrance tunnel, minimum 30cm long. Ground-level nest boxes with a 15cm diameter entrance hole may also be used.

Not always easy to breed. Good fertility and hatchability. Ground-buried nest boxes, and buried or vegetation-hidden hollow logs and drainpipes should be provided for breeding, unless hollow trees or rabbit burrows are available. Laying may begin in February, usually lay March to May. Duckweed and rearing diet, plus small grains later, are useful for rearing ducklings. Artificial, broody and parent incubation and rearing may be used successfully. Care should be taken to avoid imprinting, which may lead to males aggressive to humans and females attracted to people.

Hybrids reported with Ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea)South African shelduck (Tadorna cana)Paradise shelduck (Tadorna variegata)Ashy-headed goose (Chloephaga poliocephala)Bar-headed goose (Anser indicus) and domestic duck.

The female Common Shelduck usually lays from 7-12 creamy white eggs and incubates them for 29-31 days.

Artificial incubating:

The ideal relative humidity for incubating most waterfowl eggs is 55% (ground nesters) and 40% (cavity nesters). The temperature is usually 37.4°C. Set ventilation as recommended by the incubator manufacturer. Eggs must be turned, either automatically or by hand, a minimum of 4 times a day. As the duckling develops there is a loss of water from the egg and the air sac gets bigger. In normal development of an egg with a 29-31 days incubation, the air sac occupies about a third of it three days earlier. Cleanliness is vital and ideally eggs should be moved to a separate hatcher at this point, where the humidity should be increased to 65% and even higher once they have pipped internally.

Bird banding:
Recommended closed leg band ring size for the Common Shelduck is 12 mm.
The leg band ring can only be applied on a young shelduck at around 12-14 days old.

It doesn't matter what leg that you band, but it's good to have a consistent system.
Suggested: Left leg = Female, Right leg = Male
Lundi Micro Regular
Lundi Micro Regular
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Floatable special rearing feed for all types of aquatic ornamental fowl - especially for the cultivation of trees as well as greening ducks.

This well-balanced complete feed with 20% protein content convinces above all by its good compatibility and forms the basis for visibly healthy growth from day one.

Made exclusively from wholesome and selected raw materials, Lundi Micro Regular is also ideally suited for the year-round feeding of waterfowl.

Maintenance food:
Lundi Regular
Lundi Regular
Lundi Regular
Lundi Regular
Lundi Regular

Lundi Regular with a protein content of 20%, valuable Spirulina and high-quality by-products is optimally balanced in its composition maintenance food for water ornamental fowl of all kinds. Especially green teal and Whistling ducks that are not dependent on a very high protein content, are well supplied.

Lundi Regular contains all the minerals and vitamins in full form that are important for the animals. Therefore also suitable as breeding food.

Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium
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Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium

Floating full food for all sea ducks, green ducks, eider ducks and geese, especially in the moulting and breeding phase ideally suited. Packed with wholesome raw materials, natural vitamins and trace elements, this performance food with a protein content of 30% forms the basis for lifelong vitality.

Europese soort

Het is niet verboden om deze vogels te houden die van nature in Nederland voorkomen, op voorwaarde dat deze vogels in gevangenschap zijn geboren; nakweek dus. Deze vogels zijn voorzien van een gesloten pootring. Het is wel verboden om deze vogels te houden die in het wild gevangen zijn. Alleen bepaalde instanties, zoals vogelasiels en vogelhospitalen, zijn bevoegd om jonge en gewonde wilde vogels te houden. Deze bescherming van vogels wordt vormgegeven door schadelijke handelingen te verbieden zoals:het doden, verwonden, vangen, bemachtigen en met het oog daarop opsporen van vogels (art. 9 Flora- en faunawet); het opzettelijk verontrusten van vogels (art. 10 Flora- en faunawet);het beschadigen, vernielen, uithalen, wegnemen en verstoren van nesten, holen of andere voortplantings- of vaste rust- of verblijfplaatsen van vogels (art. 11 Flora- en faunawet);en het zoeken, rapen, uit het nest nemen, beschadigen of vernielen van eieren van vogels (art. 12 Flora- en faunawet).

Photos of the Common Shelduck

Videos of the Common Shelduck