The Ruddy Shelduck: Tadorna ferruginea, The Migratory Marvel of Indian Bird Sanctuary

There’s a magic to birds that often leaves us enthralled, and the Ruddy Shelduck, or Tadorna ferruginea, is no exception. Known in India as the Brahminy Duck, this bird is part of the rich tapestry of birdlife that takes sanctuary in the Indian subcontinent during winter months. Distinct in color and behavior, this duck is a natural attraction for any bird lover or avid bird watcher who visits a bird sanctuary in India.

Renowned for its striking orange-brown plumage, contrasting black tail and flight feathers, and a paler head, this member of the Anatidae family carries a unique charm that captures the hearts of those fortunate enough to observe it in the wild. These are just a few of the reasons why a picture of the Ruddy Shelduck is a must-have in any bird photos collection.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameRuddy Shelduck or Brahminy Duck
2Scientific nameTadorna ferruginea
3ColourOrange-brown body with a paler head, black tail and flight feathers, white wing-coverts
4Average length58-70 cm
5Average wingspan110-135 cm
6Type of birdWaterfowl
7Found in India in statesThroughout India, especially North and Northeast
8HabitatInland water bodies like lakes, reservoirs and rivers
9IUCN StatusLeast Concern

Features of the Bird


The Ruddy Shelduck measures approximately 58 to 70 cm in length. This robust size sets it apart from other ducks and gives it a stately presence in any bird sanctuary or natural setting.


Its wingspan, ranging from 110 to 135 cm, aids it during long flights during bird migration. The white wing-coverts contrast sharply with the black flight feathers, offering a captivating sight when the bird takes flight. This visual spectacle often becomes the perfect bird picture for many bird photographers.


The unique color palette of the Ruddy Shelduck is one of its defining features. Its body boasts a vibrant orange-brown plumage, while the tail and the flight feathers are black. The head is paler, offering a beautiful contrast to the body color. This unique color combination makes it a popular choice for bird png creation.


The Ruddy Shelduck has a distinctive, loud honking call, easily recognizable by bird lovers who frequent bird sanctuaries. This call is often a means of communication between pairs and can be heard from afar during breeding seasons.

Habitat and Food of the Bird

  1. Habitat: The Ruddy Shelduck faces a major danger in the form of the disappearance of its appropriate habitats. This preference for freshwater habitats makes it a frequent visitor to many a bird sanctuary across India.
  1. Migration: The Ruddy Shelduck is known for its migratory behavior. It breeds in southeastern Europe and central Asia and travels to the Indian subcontinent during the winter. This phenomenon is a significant part of the broader bird migration patterns observed in the world.
  1. Food Sources: The diet of the Ruddy Shelduck consists mainly of plant matter, including aquatic plants, grains, and occasionally small insects and invertebrates. This dietary preference makes it an essential part of the local ecosystem.
  1. Breeding Grounds: The species often nest in crevices or holes in cliffs, trees, or similar sites. This unique nesting habit offers intriguing insight into the bird’s behavior, especially when a bird nest is discovered.

Nesting and Nurturing

The Ruddy Shelduck showcases intriguing nesting behavior, which often leads to many captivating bird image captures. The male and female form a lasting bond, often remaining together for many breeding seasons.

The bird house of a Ruddy Shelduck isn’t limited to the proximity of water bodies. Instead, the bird often chooses to nest in crevices or holes in cliffs, trees, or similar sites. The female bird lays around eight eggs in a clutch, which she incubates on her own for about four weeks. Meanwhile, the male bird stays close to the nest, protecting the eggs and ensuring the safety of their offspring.

Once hatched, the young are cared for by both parents. They fledge about eight weeks after hatching, preparing for their first migration journey, an awe-inspiring sight of many a bird flying for the first time.

Threads to the Ruddy Shelduck

Despite the robust nature of the Ruddy Shelduck, the species face numerous threats that challenge their survival. Understanding these risks is crucial for conservation efforts, as it allows us to take proactive measures to mitigate them.

  1. Habitat Loss: The most significant threat to the Ruddy Shelduck is the loss of suitable habitats. This is often due to the increasing urbanization, draining of wetlands for agriculture, and pollution. Such degradation directly impacts their feeding, nesting, and breeding practices, which in turn affects their population.
  1. Climate Change: Climate change poses an existential threat to many bird species, and the Ruddy Shelduck is no exception. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns can alter the habitats they depend upon and disrupt their migration routes and timings.
  1. Hunting and Poaching: Despite being protected by law in many regions, illegal hunting and poaching remain a significant threat to the Ruddy Shelduck. This is particularly the case along their migration routes, where the lack of awareness about their protected status leaves them vulnerable.

To ensure the continued survival of the Ruddy Shelduck, these threats must be addressed head-on, through conservation strategies that encompass habitat preservation, climate change mitigation, and stricter law enforcement.

IUCN Status and Conservation

The Ruddy Shelduck has been classified as ‘Least Concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, despite this status, conservation efforts remain necessary to ensure the survival and propagation of the species. In Europe, their populations are generally in decline, while in central and eastern Asia, populations are stable or increasing.

Efforts by bird shops, such as the bird shop near me, and other organizations advocating for the protection of bird species are critical. These entities play a pivotal role in promoting awareness about the importance of these birds and the need for their conservation.

In conclusion, the Ruddy Shelduck, with its distinctive color, fascinating life cycle, and migratory behavior, is a gem of the birdlife sanctuary. As we appreciate the charm of these birds, it’s essential to remember our role in their conservation. By visiting a bird sanctuary, purchasing from a responsible bird shop, or simply sharing a captivating bird picture, each of us can contribute to the preservation of these remarkable creatures and the natural world they inhabit.

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