The Australian Shelduck, Tadorna tadornoides is a shelduck, a group of large goose-like birds which are part of the bird family Anatidae, which also includes the swans, geese and ducks. These ducks are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974.
Male – The male Australian Shelduck has a black head and upper neck with metallic green highlights, a white neck collar, black-grey beak, chestnut breast, mainly blackish body, the wings have black primaries, metallic green secondaries, and chestnut tertials.
Female – The female is similar but has white around the eye and the base of the beak. The female is also noticeably smaller.
Size: – Typical Adult is 22-28 inches.
Food: – Aquatic plants, seeds, insects, invertebrates, and grazes on short grasses.
Habitat: – Wetlands, marshes, swamps, lakes, open woodlands, and grasslands of southern & western Australia and Tasmania. Winters further north in large wetlands such as Lake George and the Coorong in Australia.
Breeding Season: – July to December.
Eggs: – 5-14 (creamy-white color).
Notes: – The Australian shelduck is the largest duck in Australia where they are sometimes called the Mountain Duck. Like other Shelducks they nest in tree hollows and the young are taken to nursery waters where they are looked after by other Shelducks.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.