Ruddy Shelduck

[ European Shelduck ] [ Cape Shelduck ] [ Ruddy Shelduck ]
[ Paradise Shelduck ] [ Australian Shelduck ] [ Rajah Shelduck ]



This large duck is very common in aviaries and easy to keep and raise. Ruddy Shelducks breed in a broad band from Morocco, through most of central Asia to china. Many birds are year round residents of the breeding range, but some winter in the Nile valley, India and south-east Asia. There are even reports of stragglers to the United Kingdom and North America, but these may be escaped aviary birds. However, there was a huge population explosion during the end of the 19th Century and these birds were seen as far north as Greenland and Iceland!
When seen from a distance, the sexes appear similar, but closer observation reveals that the males have a black neck ring and hens have a white face. The overall color is orange blended with brown and chestnut; they have white wing coverts, metallic green speculum and black primaries and tail. The bill and feet are black.

They are very similar to the Cape Shelduck (T. cana) and I have even read that some ornithologists have classed the Cape Shelduck as a subspecies of the Ruddy. While they are very similar in appearance and behavior, most recognize the Cape as a separate species.



Breeding this duck is not difficult. They do require an burrow-type nest box to lay the clutch of 8 to 16 eggs. I have noticed that this species begins to lay earlier than most waterfowl. The hen will pull lots of down to line the nest, but I also provide plenty of pine shavings as nesting material. Incubation lasts about 28 days. You can allow the hen to hatch her own eggs, and both of the adults make good parents. Sometimes the male is more protective over the brood than the hen!
Young birds may not breed until their second year. The immature are similar to the adults, but are paler and have gray markings on the wings.


General Comments

While they are considered great ducks for the beginner, they are very aggressive towards other species of waterfowl and may need to be housed in their own aviary.  I have also seen them spar with the related Egyptian Goose (Alopchen aegyptiacus) through the sides of an adjoining aviary!

Ruddy Shelducks have a very loud call that can be heard from quite a distance. Males honk, almost like a goose and hens make a louder 'Ka-ha-ha'. They do very well in captivity, but require a larger aviary than other species of waterfowl. They are very hardy and can withstand very cold temperatures.

They can be aggressive during the breeding season (and even kill other ducks and geese), therefore it would be wise to house pairs separate from other species.


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Cape Shelduck Drake

Cape Shelduck Hen

Hen on the left and Drake on the right side

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