Radjah shelducks are a bird species known by many other names, including black bucked shelduck, Tadorna radjah, Shelduck radjah, Comerdo (by Australian natives), and Burdekin ducks in Queensland. They all belong to the same genus Tadorna and genus Radjah species.
The shelduck radjah birds are mostly white in color with a dark-colored breastplate of feathers. They have a distinctive collar of dark feathers seen clearly when the birds spread their wings. The birds also have incandescent green highlights on top of their wings, providing a smattering of color in its otherwise plain plumage. However, this is visible only from an aerial view, when this duck is in (rare) flight.
This species is found in plenty in coastal tropical Australia (northern Australia - from central Queensland to the Kimberley in Western Australia), Papa New Guinea, and parts of Indonesia. They are most comfortable living in areas with mangrove flats and paperbark tree swamps with a strong, wet season. Despite being powerful swimmers, these birds prefer the brackish waters, choosing to stay within water levels that are less than two inches deep.
Freshwater near mangrove forests, tropical forests
Australia, Indonesia, Papa New Guinea, West Papua
Radjah Shelduck Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a radjah shelduck?
A radjah shelduck is a type of duck species.
What class of animal does a radjah shelduck belong to?
The radjah shelduck belong to the Aves class.
How many radjah shelducks are there in the world?
While the exact number is unknown, experts estimate there are anywhere between 10,000-100,000 raja shelducks scattered all over the world. This includes the famed Burdekin ducks of Australia.
Where does a radjah shelduck live?
Radjah shelduck lives in brackish mangroves, coastlines, freshwater wetlands, billabongs, and lagoons, and paperbark tree swamps, where its food sources are abundantly available.
What is a radjah shelduck's habitat?
A tadorna radjah prefers the brackish waters. They prefer mangrove forests and coastline. It may even avoid venturing into the water if it is more than two inches deep. The birds are also creatures of habit, roosting during the daytime, while they feed either early in the mornings or after daybreak. They feed on algae, insects, mollusks and other sedge materials found along shallow water banks. For these reasons, they nest close to their food source – near mud banks, rivers, and estuaries, and paperbark tree swamps within mangrove forests.
They also look for nesting sites close to these regions. They may additionally visit freshwater swamps lagoons just before the breeding season begins (also called wet season, when it rains and their food is in plenty). This is the time they are ready to venture deeper into the forest, into lagoons and billabongs in search of food.
Who do radjah shelducks live with?
Radjah shelducks live in flocks of 20-60 ducks together. Within these flocks, they choose a lifelong partner and stay monogamous to this partner all their life. It is these long-term pair bonds that sustain their social fabric, as they are otherwise quite aggressive in their behavior.
How long does a radjah shelduck live?
A radjah shelduck has an average life span of 12–15 years.
How do they reproduce?
Shelduck tadorna birds mate with the same partner all their life. This continues even if they live with other ducks in a flock. Their breeding season is from February through July, directly coinciding with the wet season in the areas where they exist. This is also the time where their food is available in plenty. So in January, they begin to look for nesting sites and use their own feathers to protect these sites.
They breed and lay eggs in clutches of less than a dozen before the end of the season. The eggs require an incubation time of 30 days before they hatch. All this happens close to shallow water, so they remain close to their food source at all times (algae, insects, mollusks).
What is their conservation status?
Their formal classification of shelduck tadorna is Least Concern. As with all bird and animal species, care must be taken not to destroy their primary habitat in order to protect their sustenance for the future. Accordingly, they are listed as a protected species of bird in all states of Australia.
Radjah Shelduck Fun Facts
What do radjah shelducks look like?
The radjah shelduck has a white plumage with wingtips that are black. Their legs, as well as feet, are pink in color. The beak is also pink. They are characterized by their brownish-red or chestnut-colored collar and breastplate. The species are mostly white with dark wingtips. If you search radjah shelduck, radjah shelduck zoo, white-headed shelduck, Western Australia burdekin duck, or coastal tropical Northern Australia radjah shelduck, Google will give you high-quality pictures that are just beautiful.
How cute are they?
The cuteness of the Shelduck tadorna is often subtle, and sometimes even debatable! They tend to look clumsy yet adorable when they are roosting on land, or flipping around in the water. But if you catch them unaware during breeding/ wet season, they can get vociferously cute as they make their annoyance with you mighty clear!
How do they communicate?
Radjah shelducks are unapologetically vocal in their communication. The male has a breathy yet shrill whistle; the female has a harsh and equally shrill response. They form lifelong bonds and are best living in pairs. The male specimens are also possessive about their female partners. In fact, they can get very defensive when they sense an intrusion into their space. During breeding, the male signals his readiness by dipping into the water. When the female responds, they begin to mate. This happens during the wet season, during the months of February to July.
How big is a radjah shelduck?
Shelduck tadorna ducks are small-sized birds, weighing less than 2 lb (1 kg).
How fast can a radjah shelduck fly?
They are slow but surprisingly strong fliers. They also run very quickly. They rarely get into the water to swim.
How much does a radjah shelduck weigh?
Their average size varies between 1 -2 lb (0.5-1 kg).
What are their male and female names of the species?
Both male and female birds of this species are referred to as radjah shelducks.
What would you call a baby radjah shelduck?
A baby rajah shelduck is called a duckling.
What do they eat?
They feed on algae found in shallow waters, insects, mollusks, and small worms. They are also preyed on by crocodiles, dingoes, and foxes living in the forest.
Are they aggressive?
Yes, radjah shelducks can turn aggressive when they perceive any form of threat or intrusion to their partner. They form long-term pair bonds and are very protective of this bond. By nature, they tend to be argumentative, quacking loudly. This can be perceived as aggression, especially during the wet season. The males can also get irritable during this time, sometimes even attacking the females they pair with.
Would they make a good pet?
They prefer to live near shallow water where their food source is abundant. They also need to live in pairs as they form long-term pair bonds with their partner. They can be fed a diet of lettuce, millet, small warms, and insects (like crickets). If you plan to adopt them, make sure you are able to provide them this comfortable environment. Else, they can quickly let you know of their displeasure and discomfort, vocally, and very annoyingly!
Did you know...
Radjah shelducks are not the quickest of fliers, but they run with tremendous speed. Radjah shelducks also swim occasionally, choosing to stay within shallow water at all times.
The Tadorna radjah species is often known for being argumentative, and with good reason. As with all ducks and geese species, they have no qualms about being loud. The male specimens have a breathy sore throat whistle – their signature sound with which they attract their mates. The females in turn produce a rattling sound. Both sounds have a very shrill pitch. So humans are warned to stay away from them during the breeding season (February to July) when they can create quite the racket!
What do some Australians call radjah shelducks?
Australian locals lovingly refer to them as 'Comerdo'. They are also called as 'Burdekin ducks', named after the famous Burdekin River in Queensland, Australia. As you may have gathered, this species seems to consider Australia its primary hunting grounds. It accordingly has a protected status in all Australian states.
What does the radjah shelduck's name mean?
The word 'Radjah' or 'Raja' literally means 'King', 'Ruler' or 'Princely' in Hindi. Raja shelduck sounds very royal. And this bird species certainly lives up to its regal name!
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including moorhen, or red kite.
You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our duck coloring pages.
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