Common Shelduck

Tadorna tadorna

In the picture you can see two common shelducks swimming behind each other. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Anatidae (Ducks, geese and swans)
  • Weight
    800 – 1.500 g
  • Habitat
    Sandy beaches, Wadden Sea

From courtship to breeding

During breeding season, the knob at the base of the male’s red bill is enlarged. Nesting sites are often shared by several females, where all lay their eggs. Once hatched, chicks are led by both parents to the water where they begin to learn to forage for themselves. The common shelduck is a member of the Tadorninae (half duck/half goose) subfamily and bears typical characteristics of both duck and goose. Hence, the shelduck is sometimes called sheldgoose.

A Common Shelduck is in profile.

Set meal times

Common shelducks primarily eat snails, mussels and worms, which they forage in shallow waters. In their search for food, the birds are dependent on the tides. They can only find food at low tide. During high tide the birds take a rest on dunes, sandbanks or shoreline meadows. As intertidal feeders, common shelducks also feed at night.

The birds lose their wing feathers during moulting and become flightless for a while. Up to 100.000 individuals can gather at protected areas with a rich supply of food.