Cape Shelduck

Cape Shelduck

Birds

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: Cape shelduck, South African shelduck
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Anseriformes
FAMILY: Anatidae
GENUS SPECIES: Tadorna (a sheldrake) cana (gray)

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: The Cape shelduck has a gray head and neck with a buff breast. The rest of the body is chestnut red.
SIZE: 37.5-60 cm (15-24 in.) in length; wingspan 87.5-125 cm (35-50 in.)
WEIGHT: 1.5-2.3 kg (3.3-4.9 lb)
DIET: Feeds on snails, mussels, frogs, earthworms, and insects
INCUBATION: 30 days
CLUTCH SIZE 7-15 eggs
FLEDGING DURATION 70 days
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 2-3 years
LIFE SPAN: Up to 22 years
RANGE: Southern Africa
HABITAT: Inhabits riverbanks, ponds and shallow lakes
POPULATION: GLOBAL Unknown
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. In the wild, these ducks may use holes and burrows made by other animals to build their nest.
2. 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.
3. 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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Austin, G. Birds of the World. New York. Golden Press, Inc., 1961.

Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. UK. Blandford Books Ltd., 1981.

Johnsgard, P. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Lincoln. Univ. Of Neb. Press, 1978.

Scott, P. A Coloured Key of the Wildfowl of the World. Slimbridge, England. The Wildfowl Trust. 1988.

Todd, F.S. Natural History of Waterfowl. San Diego, Ca. Ibis Publishing Co., 1996.