SomersetWanderer's picture

Ruddy Shelduck

Observed: 6th April 2010 By: SomersetWandererSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in Birds
Ruddy Shelduck
Ruddy Shelduck Crop
Description:

Another resident of the Willows Farm pool

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

RoyW's picture

The head looks whiter than it should

In this photo the birds head looks to have far more white than a Ruddy Shelduck should. More than likely this is a photographic effect because other photos that I have seen of the Willows Farm Ruddy Shelduck (presumably the same bird) show normal head colouration (buff with only a small amount of white on the face and around the eye).
If the head really was this white, then it could possibly suggest that the individual shown here is not a pure Ruddy Shelduck (female Paradise Shelduck, for example, is similar in colour but has a white head).

SomersetWanderer's picture

White head

Thanks Roy for your interesting comments. Whilst observing I did note that the head appeared very white - it was in bright sunshine however! The Birdguides Shelduck species page (http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=027042) shows a female with similar head colouring to my photo so I had assumed that is what it was. I do admit that a lot of the photos of Shelducks on BirdGuides do show more buff colouring to the head. I went back to my original photo and increased the saturation to a very high level (isn't digital wonderful!) - I have added the picture which now suggests buff colouring to the top of the head. When I re-visit I will pay particular attention to this feature. Thanks again.

RoyW's picture

Everything else looks fine!

As I originally said, it's most likely just a photographic effect! As you are obviously well aware, it's easy to burn out pale colours in bright sunlight (and I expect that this may be the case in most of the few photos on birdguides that do show the head to be mainly white). Illustrations can sometimes be inaccurate - the birdguides illustration [em]may[/em] have been drawn from an overexposed photo, for instance (the illustrations in most of the better field guides are well researched though).
Of course, females often do have a lot of white around the face and eye, and individual variation might mean that some have largely white heads (even without considering the possibility of leucism!).

Kluut's picture

Female paradise shelduck

Female paradise shelduck would seem more likely than a ruddy.
Leucism restricted so very precisely to the head would also seem unlikely.
With all anseriformes, it is wise to bear in mind that the very great majority of all species are common in captivity to the extent that a handful of people in the UK actually make a living out of breeding them for sale.