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Aves > Anseriformes > Anatidae > Tadorna

Tadorna tadorna (Linnaeus, 1758) – Common Shelduck

Taxonomic Notes:

Old Taxonomy: Anas tadorna Linnaeus, 1758.


Breeding Season:
 April-May, Breeding range is extralimital (W. Europe and central Asia). 

Nest: Nest made of grass, moss in natural crevices/cavities such as hollow trees, burrows or holes on the cliffs.

8–10 creamy white eggs, 61–71 mm × 43–50 mm (measurement of 100 eggs).
Indian and global distribution:
records (based on images):

Size: 58–67 cm

Distinguishing Characters:

Adult male: Head and neck greenish black, upper parts are largely white. A distinct broad chestnut band on breast and upper belly and a characteristic bright red upturned bill and pink legs help identify the species in field. 
Adult female: Similar to male, but dull in overall colour and smaller in size. 
Young/immature: Head and neck dull blackish, absence of broad breast band, pale coloured beak.

Similar species in India: This species can be confused with following

(1) Mallard (male): Can be distinguished by its overall small size and yellow beak.

(2) Falcated Duck (male): Can be distinguished by its smaller size and black-grey beak.

(3) Northern Shoveler (male): Can be distinguished by its smaller size, flat/spatulate black beak, blueish band on wings and pale iris.

(4) Goosander (male): Can be distinguished by its long neck, white breast and belly, comparatively long beak.

Sexual, seasonal & individual variation:

It is a sexually dimorphic species. Males can be distinguished from female by having a dark pink (same colour as its beak) knob on its forehead, which is absent in females. Females are also duller in colour.

There is no recognisable individual variation in this species. It also remains same across breeding and non-breeding season.

Status, Habitat and Habits:

It an uncommon winter visitor mainly occurs in Pakistan, Punjab, Kashmir, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Assam, Manipur, Bangladesh, Orissa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Nepal. It occurs sporadically and irregularly in small parties in the northern parts of the subcontinent. Perhaps more regular on the larger open lakes and on broad rivers.

Diet consist of molluscs, crustaceans, insects, and worms. Also feeds on algae, seeds, leaves and tubers of aquatic plants.

A clear whistle by male and a harsh short quack by female. 

Migration Status: Migratory. It is a winter migrant in northern and eastern parts of India.

IUCN Status: 
Least Concern

1. Rasmussen, P. C., and J. C. Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Washington, DC.

2. Ali, S., and S. D. Ripley. 1968. Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan: Together with those of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Ceylon (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press.

3. Stuart Baker, E. C. 1933. The Nidification of Birds of the Indian Empire. Taylor And Francis.

4. BirdLife International. 2019. Tadorna tadornaThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T22680024A154560262. 

Aves > Anseriformes > Anatidae > Tadorna

Cite this page along with its URL as:
Satose, V., and A. Bayani. 2023. Tadorna tadorna (Linnaeus, 1758) – Common Shelduck. Satose, V., A. Bayani, V. Ramachandran, P. Roy, and K. Kunte (Chief Editors). Birds of India, v. 2.17. Indian Foundation for Butterflies.
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