Shelduck - Hebridean Birds
Western Isles Birds - The shelduck, a mainly white duck, larger than a mallard but smaller than geese such as the greylags.

Often seen here in The Western Isles, Scotland. It has a particularly large prominent red bill, an elongated head, black-green, and chestnut and white upperparts. In flight, shelducks look heavy and have slow-beating wings.

Shelduck were persecuted in the 19th Century in sandy areas, because they competed with rabbits for burrows to nest in. These birds with their bright red bill are really very pretty
Shelduck - Bird Sightings - Stornoway - Western Isles
Bird Overview - Shelducks
Family
Swans, Ducks - Geese
Latin name
Tadorna tadorna
Population
Reasonably common in Britain (and in the Western Isles ) although their RSBP status is amber
Similar Species
Shoeveler
Description
The shelduck is a mainly white duck, larger than a mallard but smaller than geese such as the greylags.. It has a particularly large prominent red bill, an elongated head, black-green, and chestnut and white upperparts. In flight, shelducks look heavy and have slow-beating wings.

The plumage is boldly patterned, They have chestnut brown belt around the forepart of the body and a belly stripe. The shelduck has pink legs. The juvenile has a white face and lacks belt and belly stripe


Size
58-67cm - wing span 110 - 133cm
Habitat
Breeds on estuaries, gravel pits and fields. Winters on estuaries and sandy shores.
Food
Mostly invertebrates, esp. insects, molluscs and crustaceans. The birds feed in groups of various sizes by wading mainly in shallow water or on wet mud.

Voice
Often loud and far crying - the calls being made both in and out of the water
Breeding

Several females often co-operate by pooling their families of chicks to create 'creches'. These are attended by several females which presumably can deter predators more effectively than a female on her own.

Regularly perches on cliff ledges during the breeding season. he shelducks have monogamous pair bonding most birds persisting from year to year - they may separate on migration but pairs can't often be distinguishable in winter flocks.

The winter flocks break up late March as pairs disperse to territories and remain there for most of the day.

These birds outside of the breeding season are usually quiet - but in summer there is harsh chattering or growling quacks - which can be heard some distance away.

The eggs are laid from April to May in holes of varying sizes - generally near water - the nests being a shallow depression

The Egg Size: 66 x 47 mm Egg Weight: 78.0 g (of which 9 % is shell) and up to 8 or ten eggs can be laid. The eggs are rounded, oval and smooth with little gloss - cream white

Incubation: 29- 31 days by the: Female
Fledging: 45 - 50days as: Precocial, downy


After hatching the shelduck chicks are led by their parents to a nursery territory where the family may be either alone or with other pairs and the family stay together for up to 9 weeks.


Misc. Info

Shelduck were persecuted in the 19th Century in sandy areas like Breckland, because they competed with rabbits for burrows to nest in

The fight of the shelduck is more like that of a goose - not particularly fast with slow long powerful wing beats.

These birds are less aquatic than ducks - the young dive freely, but the adults only dive when wounded or frightened.

Shelducks have about a ten year lifespan and can be ready to breed at 2 years.



Female Tufted Duck
Shelduck
©2014 Virtual Hebrides
Website Design and Hosting by Western Isles Web Services Ltd, Isle of Lewis Western Isles - Outer Hebrides