The shelducks, genus Tadorna, are a group of large birds in the Tadorninae subfamily of the Anatidae, the biological family that includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl such as the geese and swans. The namesake genus of the Tadorninae, Tadorna is very close to the Egyptian Goose and its extinct relatives from the Madagascar region, Alopochen. While the classical shelducks form a group that is obviously monophyletic, the interrelationships of these, the aberrant Common and especially Raja Shelducks, and the Egyptian Goose were found to be poorly resolved. Fossil bones from Dorkovo (Bulgaria) described as Balcanas pliocaenica may actually belong to this genus. They have even been proposed to be referable to the Common Shelduck, but their Early Pliocene age makes this rather unlikely.
Listen to the sound of Australian Shelduck
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
|wingspan min.:||94||cm||wingspan max.:||130||cm|
|size min.:||56||cm||size max.:||72||cm|
|incubation min.:||30||days||incubation max.:||33||days|
|fledging min.:||50||days||fledging max.:||70||days|
Between May and October, 5-24 eggs are laid in a eucalypt or sandbank hollow and the female incubates the eggs for 30-32 days. Eggs may also occasionally be laid on the ground, in hollow stumps, in limestone caves or on island cliff ledges. The birds often return to the same nesting site year after year. During this time, the male defends a separate territory, where the young will be reared, which may be some distance from the nest site. When the ducklings are about two days old, they are led to this territory by their parents
Video Australian Shelduck
copyright: Stephen Wallace
The Australian shelduck is a declared pest of agriculture under the provisions of the Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976, administered by the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food. This declaration allows for the approval and implementation of a management program in various areas of the state. As a native species, the Australian shelduck is protected under the provisions of the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). Under this Act shelducks can be shot on private land between the 1 January and the 30 June each year in accordance with a restricted open season notice, without the need to obtain a damage licence from DEC. The area covered by the notice comprises the south-west land division and Eucla division but excludes the Perth metropolitan region and the district of Mandurah. Shelduck populations in this area are secure and damage to agriculture is likely to be a continual problem.