Conservation and Research
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund
Environmental Excellence Awards
Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute
Reproductive Research Center
Camps and Sleepovers
Just for Teachers
Education Offering Highlights
Teacher Workshops and Training
Cape shelduck, South African shelduck
The Cape shelduck has a gray head and neck with a buff breast. The rest of the body is chestnut red.
37.5-60 cm (15-24 in.) in length; wingspan 87.5-125 cm (35-50 in.)
1.5-2.3 kg (3.3-4.9 lb)
Feeds on snails, mussels, frogs, earthworms, and insects
Approximately 2-3 years
Up to 22 years
Inhabits riverbanks, ponds and shallow lakes
In the wild, these ducks may use holes and burrows made by other animals to build their nest.
Within days of hatching, the young are led from the nest to what field scientists call 'nursery water' by both parents or sometimes by other adults. This distance can be a mile or more! In the nursery there are several young from other shelducks together under the care of one or more adults. The nursery group (or crèche) varies in size and age range (a normal size crèche is 20-40 individuals, but some groups of 100 have been recorded). Scientists believe the nursery supervisors are failed breeders or non-breeders.
Shelducks are not diving birds, but they are able to dive if needed. The young ducklings dive freely but the adults only do so when wounded or frightened.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
These ducks depend on very few localities when it gathers in large numbers to molt.
Cape shelducks use the black-backed jackals's and other mammals's burrows for nesting sites and may be in danger themselves because of declining jackal populations.
Birds of the World
. New York. Golden Press, Inc., 1961.
Birds - Their Latin Names Explained
. UK. Blandford Books Ltd., 1981.
Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World
. Lincoln. Univ. Of Neb. Press, 1978.
A Coloured Key of the Wildfowl of the World
. Slimbridge, England. The Wildfowl Trust. 1988.
Natural History of Waterfowl
. San Diego, Ca. Ibis Publishing Co., 1996.