Shelduck Identification

The Shelducks are part of the 'Tadorna' genus which include about six species such as the Australian Shelduck, Common Shelduck, Paradise Shelduck, Radjah Shelduck, Ruddy Shelduck, and South African Shelduck or Cape Shelduck.

Shelducks are a relatively large species of duck. They all have a characteristic upperwing coloration in flight with a green speculum, black primary and secondary flight feathers and the coverts (forewing) are white.

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Click to enlarge Australian Shelduck
(Tadorna Tadornoides)
Photo: Dave Key


Click to enlarge Common Shelduck
(Tadorna Tadorna)
Photo: Dave Key

Click to enlarge Paradise Shelduck
(Tadorna Variegata)
Photo: digitaltrails & Animal Photos!
Click to enlarge Radjah Shelduck
(Tadorna Radjah)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge Ruddy Shelduck
(Tadorna Ferruginea)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge South African Shelduck
(Tadorna Cana)
Photo: Dave Key

Australian Shelduck: The male has a black head and upper neck with metallic green highlights, a white neck collar, black-grey beak, chestnut breast, mainly blackish body, the wings have black primaries, metallic green secondaries, and chestnut tertials. The female is similar but has white around the eye and the base of the beak. The female is also noticably smaller.
more information.....

Common Shelduck: The male has a dark glossy green head and neck. The lower neck and upper breast are white with a brown band around the breast. The underside is mostly white and the wings have black primary and secondary feathers with white forewings. The beak is red with a conspicuous knob on the upper base, and the legs are pink. The female is similar but is smaller, duller, and does not have the knob on its beak.
more information.....

Paradise Shelduck: The male has a blackish head with greenish gloss, finely-barred dark-grey or blackish body, black rump and uppertail, white coverts, blackish flight feathers, secondaries are glossy-green, tertials are chestnut coloured, underparts are brown, black undertail, dark-grey beak, brown eyes, and legs and feet are blackish. The female has a white head and neck, and chestnut body.
more information.....

Radjah Shelduck: The Radjah Shelduck has a white plumage with dark wingtips, secondary feathers are metallic green with white tips, a dark brown-black back, dark collar of feathers around the breast, a pink beak, pink around the eye, and pink legs and feet. Both sexes are alike.
more information.....

Ruddy Shelduck: The male has an orange-brown body, black rump and tail, a creamy buff head and neck, paler on the face, blackish collar around the base of the neck, and the wings are white with black flight feathers. Females are similar but have a whiter face and lack the black collar around the neck.
more information.....

South African Shelduck: The male has a grey head and upper neck, a buff lower neck and breast, a chestnut body, strikingly marked black, white and green wings, and a black beak. The female is similar except for a white face with a brown head and neck.
more information.....

Notes: Another species of Shelduck called the Crested Shelduck (Tadorna Cristata) is now thought to have become extinct in the late 20th century.

Shelducks spend more time out of water than most other ducks and will feed on aquatic plants, molluscs, and crustaceans, as well as grasses. They prefer nesting in the hollows of trees or old animal burrows.