Paradise Shelduck – Putangitangi – Tadorna variegata



Paradise Shelducks

Female Paradise Shelduck

The first Paradise Ducks I ever saw on Stewart Island were a group of 4 one or two day old ducklings given to us to raise years ago. They were the survivors of a clutch hatched at the Neck. The parent birds having “immigrated” a couple of years before. Paradise Ducks are very agressive, but strangely this agression does not seem to extend to protecting their young from predatory Blackback Gulls. From memory we fed them dried cat food softened in warm milk which they loved . We had a pet cat, and on the ducklings first feed the cat came up to investigate. These little balls of fluff never hesitated, down went their head, out with the necks and they actually attached the astonished cat which immediately retreated. Sadly one died the first night, but we reared the rest successfully. Theiraggressionsaw them ban all other birds from our garden, especially after they taught themselves to fly, which was a fascinating exercise. They were death on lettuces, so no salads that year, but did redeemthemselves to some extent by hoovering any and all insects out of the garden.
Eventually we decided that it was time for the group, which were all males, to be dispatched into the wild to be real ducks, and to fend for themselves. I took them down to Port Pegasus at the extreme southeastern corner of Stewart Island and liberated them in the late afternoon. Thinking that the 40 odd miles from home would be enough. Wrong, next morning Iris heard them honking as they walked up the path, tapping on the kitchen door demanding breakfast.

One of the males we raised took up residence on the hotel corner, and took it upon itself to monster all women walkingpast. The locals very quickly learned to give it a suitably wide berth, but the head down hissing attacks must have seriously alarmed some of the tourists.

The males are somewhat less flamboyant than their white headed mates

“Parries” mate for life, and are quite territorial. Some of those early clutches did survive the gulls. And so now we have a handful of pairs in some of the local bays.

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They have a variety of calls, and a pair will “talk” quietly at regular intervals.

Paradise ducks on roof

Their alarm calls are loud and piercing, with the male sounding more like a goose.

parry

A couple of years ago a guest looked out our sunroom windows and asked us if we regularly had ducks on the roof. We don’t, but never the less were delighted to see this pair

Peter Tait

Peter Tait

Peter Tait is a professional nature guide based at Stewart Island, New Zealand, and he works primarily on Ulva Island Open Sanctuary. Peter has been resident on the Island for over 40 years and was one time Forest Ranger in Charge of Stewart Island. Fishing followed forestry and was in turn followed by Talisker, a 17m charter yacht. He is qualified Skipper Deep Sea Fishing Vessel. In addition to guiding Peter and his wife Iris are hosts at Sails Ashore Lodge.

Peter Tait

Peter Tait

Peter Tait is a professional nature guide based at Stewart Island, New Zealand, and he works primarily on Ulva Island Open Sanctuary. Peter has been resident on the Island for over 40 years and was one time Forest Ranger in Charge of Stewart Island. Fishing followed forestry and was in turn followed by Talisker, a 17m charter yacht. He is qualified Skipper Deep Sea Fishing Vessel. In addition to guiding Peter and his wife Iris are hosts at Sails Ashore Lodge.

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