The Common Shelduck: Tadorna tadorna, A Gem in the Indian Bird Sanctuary

The most common creatures often hold the most extraordinary secrets. In the world of birdlife, one such wonder is the Common Shelduck or Tadorna tadorna. This native bird of the Euro-Siberian region is a waterfowl species that exhibits a vibrant blend of colors and an intriguing life cycle. Its presence in the Indian bird sanctuary adds a splash of color to the country’s diverse birdlife.

Belonging to the shelduck genus, Tadorna, this bird is a striking representation of the vitality and vivacity of nature. It bears an uncanny resemblance to a small short-necked goose, albeit with its own unique color riot. The Common Shelduck is a visual delight for any bird lover, with a crimson-red bill, pink feet, a white body with chestnut patches, a black belly, and a dark green head and neck.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameCommon Shelduck
2Scientific nameTadorna tadorna
3ColourReddish-pink bill, pink feet, white body with chestnut patches, black belly, dark green head and neck
4Average length58-67 cm
5Average height35 cm (at shoulder)
6Type of birdWaterfowl
7Found in India in statesMaharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal
8HabitatLakes, rivers, estuaries, salt marshes in open country
9IUCN StatusLeast Concern

Features of the Bird


The Common Shelduck, a treasure of the bird sanctuary, has an impressive length ranging from 58-67 cm. This length, combined with its wingspan that stretches between 110 and 133 cm, gives the bird a commanding presence. This long-bodied structure aids the bird’s swimming abilities, making it a fascinating sight in any bird sanctuary.


Standing at an average height of about 35 cm at the shoulder, the Common Shelduck is a towering figure among many waterfowl species. This height is advantageous as it enables the bird to wade in deeper waters while foraging. Despite its size, the bird maintains agile movements, expertly maneuvering through water bodies and the air, an alluring sight for any bird lover.

Running Speed

While precise data on the Common Shelduck’s running speed is sparse, the bird is likely capable of quick bursts of speed when needed. This agility is crucial for escaping predators or chasing away rivals, making the bird’s survival in the wild possible.


One of the defining characteristics of the Common Shelduck is its distinctive color palette. The bird is a captivating spectacle with a reddish-pink bill, pink feet, a white body with chestnut patches, a black belly, and a dark green head and neck. Its colors make it a prime subject for bird photos and bird png creation.

Habitat and Food of the Bird

  1. Habitat : The Common Shelduck is typically found in open country habitats near lakes, rivers, and estuaries, making it a common sight in any bird sanctuary. They are also seen around coastlines and salt marshes and are known to frequent tidal mudflats in winters.
  1. Migration: A large part of the bird migration phenomenon, most populations of this species migrate to subtropical regions during winter. Some, especially in westernmost Europe, are largely resident.
  1. Food Sources: The diet of the Common Shelduck primarily consists of small invertebrates, plant matter, seeds, and aquatic vegetation. They forage by dabbling in shallow water and grazing on land, creating a picturesque bird picture


  1. Foraging Behavior: The Shelduck often feeds at night, capitalizing on the cover of darkness to avoid predators while it searches for food.
  1. Breeding Grounds: The species commonly breeds in rabbit burrows, tree holes, or haystacks. This nesting habit makes the bird nest of the Common Shelduck a fascinating study for bird lovers.

Nesting and Nurturing

The Common Shelduck’s unique preference for nesting in rabbit burrows, tree holes, or haystacks adds to its captivating life history. The bird house of the Common Shelduck is thus a place of great activity. The female typically lays a clutch of 8-12 eggs, which she incubates alone while the male stands guard nearby.

Upon hatching, the ducklings are cared for by both parents. The young ones can dive underwater to evade predators while the adults will fly away to distract the predator, a sight to behold, especially if caught on a bird image.

Threats to the Common Shelduck

Even though the Common Shelduck is a species of least concern, it is important to be aware of the potential threats to their populations. Comprehending these threats is a crucial step in formulating effective conservation strategies.

  1. Loss of Habitat: One of the significant threats that the Common Shelduck faces is the loss of their natural habitats. As human settlements expand, natural wetlands, marshes, and estuaries, which these birds prefer for nesting and feeding, are often destroyed or polluted. Such destruction impacts their ability to find food, nest, and reproduce, which can lead to a decrease in their population.
  1. Climate Change: The Common Shelduck is at risk due to the impact of climate change. Changes in weather patterns can alter their habitats, affecting the availability of food and water. This can lead to disruptions in their breeding and migration cycles.
  1. Human Disturbance: In some regions, human activities, such as farming, hunting, and recreational activities, can disturb the Common Shelduck, especially during their breeding season. This can result in these birds abandoning their nests, leading to a reduction in their breeding success rate.

To secure the future of the Common Shelduck, it is necessary to address these threats. This involves implementing conservation measures such as preserving their natural habitats, reducing human disturbances, and addressing the broader challenges of climate change.

IUCN Status and Conservation

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Common Shelduck as ‘Least Concern’, indicating that the species does not currently face immediate threats to its survival. However, like all wildlife, the Common Shelduck faces potential threats due to habitat loss, climate change, and human activities. Hence, conservation efforts are crucial for ensuring the species’ longevity, an initiative any bird shop or bird shop near me should advocate for.

In conclusion, the Common Shelduck is a testament to the grandeur and vibrancy of nature. Its striking features, fascinating habits, and the role it plays in the ecosystem make it a crucial part of the Indian birdlife. As we marvel at the spectacle of this bird flying, let’s remember to protect and conserve it for future generations. Whether you’re a professional ornithologist, a casual bird watcher, or simply a nature lover looking for a bird shop near me, we can all contribute to the well-being of these magnificent creatures.

More info about Common Shelduck: Link

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