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Australian Shelduck

australian shelduck

Tadorna tadornoides


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


Freshwater swamps, brackish swamps, inland lakes, grasslands


Young grasses and shoots, algae and aquatic grasses


July to December


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


Five to 14 eggs incubated for 33 days


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



Conservation status:



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.