Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea)

Ruddy Shelduck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Tadorna ferruginea | [authority] Pallas, 1764 | [UK] Ruddy Shelduck | [FR] Tadorne casarca | [DE] Rostgans | [ES] Tarro Canelo | [NL] Casarca


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Tadorna ferruginea EU c, s


The shelducks, genus Tadorna, are a group of large birds in the Tadorninae subfamily of the Anatidae, the biological family that includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl such as the geese and swans. The namesake genus of the Tadorninae, Tadorna is very close to the Egyptian Goose and its extinct relatives from the Madagascar region, Alopochen. While the classical shelducks form a group that is obviously monophyletic, the interrelationships of these, the aberrant Common and especially Raja Shelducks, and the Egyptian Goose were found to be poorly resolved. Fossil bones from Dorkovo (Bulgaria) described as Balcanas pliocaenica may actually belong to this genus. They have even been proposed to be referable to the Common Shelduck, but their Early Pliocene age makes this rather unlikely.

Physical charateristics

Its main body colour is a variable orange-brown with a black rump and tail. Adult males have a cream head and neck, and a narrow black collar during the breeding season. Females have a paler, almost white patch on the face and do not have a black collar. Nests in rock recess, rock faces, ruins, buildings and on trees.

Listen to the sound of Ruddy Shelduck

[audio: Shelduck.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 110 cm wingspan max.: 135 cm
size min.: 58 cm size max.: 70 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 29 days
fledging min.: 51 days fledging max.: 29 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 7  
      eggs max.: 10  


Eurasia : Central, South


Unlike Shelduck, has not extended range to maritime coastal habitats but occupies wider spectrum of inland biotopes, from coasts of inland seas and lakes, salt lagoons and marshes, rivers, streams, and pools, up to hills, high plateaux, and mountainous regions, reaching nearly 5000 m in Pamirs and Tibet. Dependence on water for resting and feeding less than for most Anatinae, although needs access to some, shallow and preferably saline. Often on unvegetated banks and in steppe or semi-desert, with only small pools or streams accessible. Breeding recorded several kilometres from water.


Eggs are laid from mid-March to early may. The nests are holes in sand or clay banks, either natural or excavated by another animal; in abandoned buildings and farm sheds. In hollow trees up to 10 m above ground, crevices in rocks and cliffs, rarely on cliff ledge in the open. Nest is a shallow depression lined with down, occasionally a little grass is incorporated. Clutch size is 8-9 eggs, ranging from 6-12. This species incubates only one brood. Incubation period anges from 28-29 days and the young fldge after about 55 days.

Feeding habits

Omnivorous; plant material probably predominates, but proportions vary with locality and season. On land, where feeds more often than Shelduck, plucks vegetation and picks up seeds and invertebrates. Also grubs in wet soil, and dabbles and up-ends in shallow water.

Video Ruddy Shelduck


copyright: youtube


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Tadorna ferruginea is a widespread breeder across much of south-eastern Europe,
which accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European
breeding population is relatively small (<33,000 pairs), and underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although the trend in Russia during 1990-2000 was unknown, the other key population in Turkey declined, and the species continued to decline at a rate that-on top of earlier declines-probably equates to a large decline (>30%)
over three generations.
A bird with a very fragmented distribution from north-western Africa and south-eastern Europe to Central Asia, as far East as Lake Baykal and Mongolia. A small population also exists in Ethiopia. The birds of north-western Africa formerly also used to visit southern Spain in winter, but in this country observations are currently only sporadic. In the European Union the species is today only occurring in Greece. These birds belong to the population of the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, which has undergone a strong decline during the twentieth century, but seems currently to be quite stable. It is estimated at 20000 individuals
Ruddy Shelduck status Least Concern


Mainly dispersive or nomadic, but some migratory, especially from northern parts of breeding range. North African population, which formerly (to c. 1970s) wintered regularly in Spain, no longer migrates northward to Europe. Southward dispersal by some breeders of Balkans and Black Sea countries.

Distribution map

Ruddy Shelduck distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *