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Bird name:


Tadorna tadorna




Geese and Ducks (Anatidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Reservoirs, Marshes, saltwater, Coastal mudflats and estuaries, Gravel pits

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Mates for life

Egg Colour:

Smooth, slightly glossy and creamy-white.

Number of Eggs:

3 - 15

Incubation Days:

29 - 31

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Grass, moss and bracken lined with down.

Nest Location:

In rabbit burrows and hollow trees, also sometimes in bushes, bases of haystacks and walls.


Most migrate


Shelduck: Large, long-necked duck of coastal areas. Dark green-black head and upper neck with red-orange, knobbed bill. White with red-brown on breast and upper back, thick black stripe on belly, and orange-brown on vent. Wings white with black, dark green, and red-brown patch. Adult females like males but lack knob on bill, have bit of white on face, and paler vent. Juveniles are mostly white with a grey-pink bill, white eye ring, and are brown-grey on part of the head, neck, back and wings. Wing pattern like adult but white trailing edge.

Range and Habitat

Shelduck: Resident breeder and winter visitor in the UK & Ireland. Birds can be seen all year long. Resident birds are found at coastal areas across the UK, but are uncommon in Scotland except at large estuaries. Habitat includes sandy coastal areas, lakes, reservoirs, gravel pits and estuaries.

Breeding and Nesting

Shelduck: Strong, permanent pair-bonds. Nesting is in solitary pairs or small groups. Nest in hollow tree, rabbit burrow, bushes, or nest box is constructed of vegetation and lined with down. Male assists female with incubation. Broods form creches of up to 100 ducklings, which most adults desert.

Foraging and Feeding

Shelduck: Found mainly in coastal areas and sometimes around inland waters such as reservoirs. It feeds by digging or dabbling for shellfish, snails, insects and small fish. Sometimes eating worms and seeds of various plants.


Shelduck: A softly whistled "sliss-sliss-sliss-sliss;" also a quick nasal "gag-ag-ag-ag-ag-ak."

Similar Species

Shelduck: Wigeon is smaller, has a brown head, grey bill, grey underwing with white underparts, and a distinctive yellow supercilium. Shoveler is smaller with a larger, distinctive bill, and chestnut, not white, flanks.

The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
Eye ringX
The circle around the eye formed of feathers that are a different color from the rest of the face.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Birds do not have two separate cavities for excrement and reproduction like humans do. In birds, there is one single entrance/exit that suits both functions called the vent, cloaca or anus.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX