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Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.170,000-220,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population sizes have been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China and c.50-10,000 wintering individuals in Korea (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing or have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour Asian populations are largely migratory, moving south on a broad front to winter at lower latitudes and altitudes in India and south-east Asia (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Scott and Rose 1996). Other populations are chiefly sedentary or dispersive, undertaking local movements linked to the availability of suitable water (moving away from drought-affected areas or to temporary wetlands) (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Scott and Rose 1996). The species is usually found dispersed in pairs during the breeding season, although it may form small nesting groups when desirable nesting sites are close together (Madge and Burn 1988). It may congregate into larger flocks (e.g. 4,000 birds at a site in Nepal, > 10,000 at a site in Turkey) during the autumn and winter, but is more characteristically found in scattered small flocks along rivers (Madge and Burn 1988, Kear 2005a). Adults undergo a complete moult after breeding that leaves them flightless for around four weeks mid-July to September (Cramp and Simmons 1977, Kear, 2005a), throughout which they require large open areas of water on or near their breeding grounds (Scott and Rose 1996). The species is mainly nocturnal (Johnsgard 1978). Habitat Breeding This species frequents the shores of inland freshwater, saline and brackish lakes and rivers in open country, particularly those in open steppe, upland plateau and mountainous regions (reaching up to 5,000 m in Himalayas) (Cramp and Simmons 1977, Johnsgard, 1978, Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Quan et al. 2001). However, it is less dependent upon large water bodies for resting and feeding than most other Anatidae, and often occurs a considerable distance from water during the breeding season (Scott and Rose 1996). Non-breeding In the non-breeding season this species prefers streams, slow-flowing rivers, freshwater pools, flooded grasslands, marshes and brackish or saline lakes in lowland regions, and is also found on artificial reservoirs (Cramp and Simmons 1977, Johnsgard, 1978, Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Quan et al. 2001) in the vicinity of agricultural lands (Uzbekistan) (Kreuzberg-Mukhina 2006). It avoids coastal waters and tall, dense vegetation or emergent and floating aquatic plants (Madge and Burn 1988). Diet The species is omnivorous, it's diet consisting of tender green shoots and the seeds of terrestrial vegetation, agricultural grains such as millet and wheat, littoral crustaceans such as shrimps, aquatic and terrestrial insects (especially Locusts), aquatic molluscs, small fish, frogs, amphibian spawn and worms (Cramp and Simmons 1977, Johnsgard, 1978, Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Quan et al. 2001). Breeding site Nests are shallow depressions, frequently located far from the water in burrows or holes in sand or clay banks (these can either be natural or excavated by another animal) (Madge and Burn 1988). Other nest sites include abandoned buildings and farm sheds, hollow trees up to 10 m high, crevices in rocks and cliffs and occasionally nest-boxes (Madge and Burn 1988). Management information The population in the "Ascania Nova" nature reserve, southern Ukraine, has been restored successfully as a result of artificial nest creation, regular feeding, breaking the ice on ponds to provide constant access to water, and raising broods using conspecific, Cairina moschata and Anas platyrhynchos foster parents (Zubko et al. 2001).

Hunting is a threat, especially in south-east Europe (Johnsgard 1978, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a, Popovkina 2006) (e.g. in Turkey) (Scott and Rose 1996), although the species is largely protected in central and eastern Asia by its sacred status (Kear 2005a). Other threats to western populations include the loss and degradation of inland wetlands through subterranean water extraction for irrigation (Popovkina 2006) (leading to decreasing water supplies for seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands), widespread drainage of shallow marshes and lakes (Scott and Rose 1996), salt extraction (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Green et al. 2002, Popovkina 2006), urban development, pollution, introduction of exotic fish and overgrazing (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Green et al. 2002, Popovkina 2006). At the Klingnau Dam in northern Switzerland the species has been known to hybridise with the South African Shelduck Tadorna cana from escaped captive populations, which could pose a threat to the integrity of both species (Owen et al. 2006). The species is also susceptible to avian influenza (strain H5N1) and is therefore threatened by outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006). Utilisation This species is hunted for commercial and recreational purposes in Gilan Province, northern Iran (Balmaki and Barati 2006).

Balmaki, B.; Barati, A. 2006. Harvesting status of migratory waterfowl in northern Iran: a case study from Gilan Province. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 868-869. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K. and Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.

Cramp, S.; Simmons, K. E. L. 1977. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic, vol. I: ostriches to ducks. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Green, A. J.; El Hamzaoui, M.; El Agbani, M. A.; Franchimont, J. 2002. The conservation status of Moroccan wetlands with particular reference to waterbirds and to changes since 1978. Biological Conservation 104: 71-82.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Johnsgard, P.A. 1978. Ducks, geese and swans of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London.

Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, geese and swans volume 1: general chapters; species accounts (Anhima to Salvadorina). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Kreuzberg-Mukhina, E. A. 2006. The effect of habitat change on the distribution of waterbirds in Uzbekistan and the possible implications of climate change. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 277-282. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Madge, S. and Burn, H. 1988. Wildfowl. Christopher Helm, London.

Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Owen, M.; Callaghan, D.; Kirby, J. 2006. Guidelines on Avoidance of Introductions of Non-native Waterbird Species. Bonn, Germany.

Popovkina, A. B. 2006. Conflicting trends in Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea populations: a myth or reality? In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 480-481. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Quan, R. C.; Wen, X.; Tang, X.; Peng, G. H.; Huang, T. F. 2001. Habitat use by wintering Ruddy Shelduck at Lashihai Lake, Lijiang, China. Waterbirds 24(3): 402-406.

Scott, D. A.; Rose, P. M. 1996. Atlas of Anatidae populations in Africa and western Eurasia. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Zubko, V.; Havrilenko, V.; Semenov, N. 2001. Restoration of the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea population in "Ascania Nova" nature reserve (Southern Ukraine). Acta Ornithologica (Warsaw) 36(1): 97-100.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Tadorna ferruginea. Downloaded from on 13/02/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 13/02/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
Species name author (Pallas, 1764)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 8,410,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change
- 2015 European Red List assessment