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How To Photograph The Ruddy Shelduck

Eschenbach share some top tips on finding and photographing the Ruddy shelduck.

|  Animals / Wildlife
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ruddy shelduck


The ruddy shelduck is originally a bird of Central Asia but also occurs in Central Europe. Like most members of the shelduck group, the ruddy shelduck share common characteristics with both geese and ducks.



Ruddy shelduck grow to a length of about 60 cm. Males and females look very similar: both have a predominantly rusty red plumage. The head and neck are brighter, females can even have a completely white head. The flight feathers and the tail are black, legs and feet vary from olive-grey to black.
During the breeding season, males also have a delicate black neck ring that can help distinguish them from the females. In a nutshell, males generally have a stronger rusty red colour while females look paler.



The ruddy shelduck can mainly be found in the steppes of central Asia. Although the European population is declining it can also be observed in southeast Europe. A very small population also lives in north-west Africa. In Tibet, it often populates very high lakes and other shallow waters up to 5000m of altitude.


Bird Watching Tips

Ruddy shelducks are usually found in the vicinity of the body of waters like lakes and rivers. They are more rarely found in coastal areas.

Shelducks can be seen as intermediate between geese and ducks. This is clearly evident when they look for food. In shallow waters, ruddy shelducks are quietly dabbling in search of food, as you have probably already seen ducks do. But they also go to green areas around the water and pick grass and other plants from the ground like geese. Their diet is mostly vegetarian but they will also eat small fishes and insects from time to time.

Another special feature concerns their breeding behaviour. Sometimes they use old raptor's nests, but most of the time they nest in caves! These can be depressions in the ground or real rock caves, sometimes ruddy shelducks simply dig them themselves or use old burrows or hollow trees. During the breeding season, they defend their territory with passion and become very aggressive towards their own kind and other species.

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