(Tadorna tadorna)




Facts about this animal

The shelduck is a large duck of 0.98-1.45 kg in males and 0.8-1.25 in females, larger than a mallard but smaller than geese. It has a particularly prominent red bill, black-green head, and chestnut and white upperparts. In flight, shelducks look heavy and have slow-beating wings.

The female lays 7-12 creamish eggs into a nest sited usually in cavities, burrows, haystacks etc., or occasionally an open nest, which she incubates alone for 30 days.

Shelduck feed on invertebrates, small shellfish and aquatic snails.

Did you know?
that people along the North Sea coast call the shelducks "cave geese" because they are particularly fond of burrows as nesting sites? They do not excavate the holes but rather use the abandoned tunnels of rabbits or foxes. Perhaps as the result of a shortage of adeqaute nesting sites, several females may use the same nest.


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Tadorna tadorna
Name (English) Shelduck
Name (French) Tadorne de belon
Name (German) Brandgans
Name (Spanish) Tarro blanco
Local names Czech: Husice liscí
Dutch: Bergeend
Estonian: Ristpart
Finnish: Ristisorsa
Greek: Barbára
Hungarian: Bütykös ásólút
Italian: Volpoca
Polish: Ohar
Portuguese: Pato-branco
Swedish: Gravand
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.) Included in AEWA



Photo Copyright by
Adrian Pingstone



Range Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong. India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, PDR, Korea, Rep., Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mongolia Myanmar, Nepal Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia ,Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen Europe: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland. Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, former Yug. Rep., Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Fed., Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom North and West Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia Vagrants in some more countries on all three continents.
Habitat Estuaries, coasts, freshwater wetlands
Wild population The global population is estimated to be 580,000 to 710,000 individuals by Wetlands International (2002).
Zoo population 779 reported to ISIS (2006).

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 18 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Colin Burnett

Why do zoos keep this animal

The shelduck is a very attractive, colourful species, thus a good ambassador for wetland conservation.