SHELDUCKS and SHELDGEESE
Shelducks and sheldgeese inhabit every continent except North America and Antartica but are mainly found in the southern hemisphere. They are not best suited to a starter's wildlife collection due to their territorial nature and temperament.
Shelducks are more aquatic than sheldgeese, eating vegetation, invertebrates, small shellfish and aquatic snails. They form strong pair bonds and are highly territorial. Both male and female are quarrelsome. Common Shelduck can be introduced to a mixed collection but most relatives tend to be aggressive especially during the breeding season.
Sheldgeese are essentially vegetarian whereas shelducks are more omnivorous. They spend considerable time ashore and some species regularly perch in trees. Sheldgeese form strong pair bonds, possibly for life. Many breeders are put off keeping them as both male and female are inclined to fight. They may kill other waterfowl and as a result, sheldgeese must be housed as separate pairs.
EUROPEAN SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna
European Shelduck or Common Shelduck are popular in most wildfowl collections. They are an attractive addition with their bold chestnut band across the breast and shoulders, glossy dark green head and neck, bright red bill and pink legs. The drake has a clear whistle whereas the duck utters a hoarse quack.
European Shelduck are more gregarious than other shelduck species and can be introduced to a mixed collection successfully. They are not well suited however to confined spaces likely to make them quarrel.
The European Shelduck is common around Britain where it has a preference for salt marshes, coastal mudflats and sandy estuaries. Their preference when nesting is burrows and holes, where they lay a large clutch of 7-12 eggs and incubate for 30 days. In their natural environment, European Shelduck often desert their ducklings at a young age, leaving them in crèches with just one or two adults to look after them.
RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorna ferruginea
Ruddy Shelduck have a reputation for their aggressive quarrelsome nature and as such are more popular for wildfowl collections with plenty of space. Their rich coppery-cinnamon plumage, pale buff head and black bill, legs and tail is both striking and unusual. To go with their bold nature Ruddy Shelduck utter a very noisy nasal whooping call.
Ruddy Shelduck have a wide and varied habitat but favour inland fresh water and are rarely seen in coastal habitats. They are often nocturnal in their feeding behaviour.
Ruddy Shelduck have varied nesting sites in their natural environment from holes to crevices. Relatively easy to breed in captivity, they lay large clutches of 8-12 eggs incubating them for about 28 days.