Paradise shelduck

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Paradise shelduck
A pair of paradise shelducks, Lake Victoria, Christchurch.jpg
Male, left, female, right, at Lake Victoria, Christchurch
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Tadorna
T. variegata
Binomial name
Tadorna variegata
(Gmelin, 1789)

The paradise shelduck (Tadorna variegata) is a large goose-like duck endemic to New Zealand.[2][3] It is a shelduck, a group of large goose-like birds which are part of the bird family Anatidae. The genus name Tadorna comes from Celtic roots and means "pied waterfowl".[4] Known to the Māori as pūtangitangi, but now commonly referred to as the "paradise duck", it is a prized game bird. Both the male and female have striking plumage: the male has a black head and barred black body, the female a white head with a chestnut body.[3]

The paradise shelducks usually live as pairs,[2] grazing on grass and weeds, and will raid crops, particularly when molting.


Paradise shelducks form long-term pair bonds, often lasting for life, and defend territories.[5] They have a long breeding season, lasting from August through December.[3] They reach sexual maturity after two years, and build nests lined with grass and feathers hidden in high grass, inside hollow trees, on branches of habitable trees (i.e. Macrocarpa), or beneath rotting logs. The mean clutch size is around nine eggs. Chicks fledge after eight weeks.


Before Europeans settled in New Zealand the Māori hunted paradise shelducks in favoured districts. Hunting was done outside the breeding season when the birds were molting and could not fly. During the breeding season hunting them was forbidden. This conservation and selective hunting system ensured good supplies of food.[6]

Paradise shelducks were uncommon prior to European settlement, however changes to habitat caused by the conversion of forest to pasture, and the deliberate provisioning on ponds by hunting groups, has led to a large increase in the numbers of these ducks.

The name[edit]

The genus name Tadorna comes from Celtic roots and means "pied waterfowl", essentially the same as the English "shelduck".[7]



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Tadorna variegata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Paradise Shelducks Retrieved on January 2, 2008
  3. ^ a b c "Paradise Shelduck". Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Inc. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. Retrieved January 2, 2008.
  4. ^ Kear, Janet (2005). Ducks, Geese, and Swans. Oxford University Press. p. 420. ISBN 0-19-861008-4.
  5. ^ Williams, Murray (1979). "The social structure, breeding and population dynamics of paradise shelduck in the Gisborne-East Coast District" (PDF). Notornis. 26 (3): 213–272. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 17, 2008.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Kear, Janet (2005). Ducks, Geese, and Swans. Oxford University Press. p. 420. ISBN 0-19-861008-4.

External links[edit]