Radjah Shelducks are also known as Raja Shelducks, Black-backed Shelducks, or Burdekin Ducks.
Male and female Radjah Shelducks are similar in appearance and coloring. They are black and white, with white heads and chests and undersides, but with a distinctive dark band across the chest. Their back, wingtips, rump, and tail are all black. There have very attractive green and russet patches of color along the extended wings. Legs and feet are light pink. And bills and eyes are also light in color. The eyes are considered to be white.
Range: The range of the Radjah Shelduck is along the coastline of northern Australia as well as around the coasts of New Guinea.
Habitat: Radjah Shelducks mostly inhabit brackish coastal waters. They seem to prefer mangrove swamps, but also can be seen further inland in freshwater swamps and lagoons, especially during the rainy season. It seems they don't like it when the water gets too deep and move inward to shallow water sources.
Status in the Wild: The Radjah Shelduck population in the wild is widespread and quite strong. So despite hunting and habitat destruction, they are still listed as being of Least Concern.
Status in Aviculture: Radjah Shelducks are beautiful and unusual additions to any waterfowl collection. They can be found in aviculture around the world.
Breeding: Radjah Shelducks tend to nest close to water and food sources. They prefer a nesting location in a tree or hollow branch. Radjah Shelducks are monogamous, and pairs can become territorial during breeding season. Clutches usually consist of about 8-12 creamy colored eggs. Incubation takes 28-30 days. Both parents care for the ducklings, which start swimming soon after hatching.
Lifespan: Radjah Shelducks in captivity usually live 10 and 20 years.
Size: Radjah Shelducks measure 19 - 24 inches long. They weigh between 1.75 and 2 pounds at maturity.
Housing Requirements: Radjah Shelducks are hardy and adaptable fowl. Any housing that is appropriate for geese or large ducks will also work for shelducks. Plan on about 160 square feet per bird within an enclosure. Although Shelducks are very active on dry land, they do need access to water for bathing. They prefer shallow water (2 inches deep). Radjah Shelducks are good fliers and can fly most of the year, so plan for a way to keep them from flying away. Be sure enclosures are secure from your area predators.
Diet: Radjah Shelducks are more water-oriented than many of the other Shelducks. Their wild diet consists of various algae and mollusks, sedge grasses and plant materials as well as insects, all of which would be plentiful in mangrove coastal settings. In captivity, they do well on commercial waterfowl feed, although allowing access for ranging and diversity of diet would be optimal. They will reward you by ridding your yard and garden of insects.
Miscellaneous Notes: Shelducks and the genus Tadorna are made up of species of waterfowl that are not quite all goose and not quite all duck. Genetic work is being done on this interesting group of species. In general, Shelducks, or Sheldrakes as males are sometimes referred to, are the size of small geese but have a duck-like body carriage. They also do well on land as well as in water.