Paradise Shelduck

Tadorna variegata

Physical Description

The Putangitangi, or Paradise Shelduck, is a large, distinctive waterfowl species. Males and females have different plumage. The male has a dark green head and neck, a chestnut body, and white wing patches. The female has a white head and neck with a dark brown body. Both sexes have a reddish beak and legs. The Paradise Shelduck is one of the few waterfowl species that display sexual dimorphism in plumage.

Habitat and Range

Paradise Shelduck are native to New Zealand and can be found in various habitats, including wetlands, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and grasslands. They are commonly seen in both rural and urban areas, including farmland and parks. They are endemic to New Zealand and can be found throughout the North and South Islands and on some offshore islands.

Feeding Habits

Paradise Shelduck are omnivorous birds with a varied diet. They feed on various plant matter, including grasses, seeds, leaves, and agricultural crops. They also consume insects, small invertebrates, and aquatic invertebrates found in their wetland habitats. They graze on the land and can also dive and swim to forage in water.

Breeding and Nesting

Paradise Shelduck form long-term monogamous pairs, and both parents participate in incubating the eggs and raising the chicks. They build nests in tree hollows, rock crevices, or burrows. The female typically lays a clutch of 9 to 12 eggs. After hatching, the chicks stay with their parents for several months, learning to forage and fly before becoming independent.

Conservation Status

Paradise Shelduck are not currently classified as a threatened species. They have adapted well to human-altered environments and are commonly seen in various habitats across New Zealand. However, local populations can be affected by habitat loss, disturbance, and hunting. Conservation efforts focus on protecting wetland habitats and raising awareness about their conservation needs.

Tree and Plant Preferences

Paradise Shelduck are not specifically associated with particular tree species, as they inhabit various habitats. They are commonly seen in wetland areas where they feed on aquatic plants, grasses, and agricultural crops. They may also roost or nest near trees, utilising tree hollows or other suitable nest cavities.

Interesting Facts

  • Paradise Shelduck are known for their distinctive and loud honking calls, often heard during flight or when they gather in flocks.
  • They are highly territorial birds and will vigorously defend their nesting sites and feeding areas from intruders.
  • Paradise Shelduck are often seen in pairs, with the male and female forming a strong bond that lasts throughout their lives.
  • They are considered culturally significant in Māori tradition and have symbolic meanings associated with fertility and family.
  • Paradise Shelduck have a unique courtship behaviour where the male stretches his neck upwards and emits a whistling call to attract the female.