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Exotics

Australian Shelduck

australian shelduck

Tadorna tadornoides

Distribution:

Southeastern and western Australia; appear to be self-introduced to scattered sites around New Zealand

Habitat:

Freshwater swamps, brackish swamps, inland lakes, grasslands

Diet:

Young grasses and shoots, algae and aquatic grasses

Breeding:

July to December

Nest:

In a large tree hollow, lined with down. Sometimes rabbit burrows.

Eggs:

Five to 14 eggs incubated for 33 days

Chicks:

They remain together in a family group for the first six weeks, once fledged they are completely independent

Predators:

Humans

Conservation status:

Common

General:

During dry times Australian Shelducks migrate to water. After breeding season, they gather in large flocks on water for moulting. They feed noisily late afternoon but spend much of the day resting beside water.


Believed to pair for life, Australian Shelduck return to the same nest each year. They are very territorial, defending their area against other bird species.


Within days of hatching, the young are led from the nest by their parents or other adults to what field scientists call “nursery water”. The distance can be over one and a half kilometres! On the “nursery water”, there are several young from other parents together under the care of one or more adults. A normal size creche is 20-40 individuals, but groups up to 100 have been recorded.


Never popular as a bird for the table, the Australian Shelduck has not been victimised by overhunting and populations may have actually grown due to the increase of irrigation in agriculture.