Ruddy Shelduck is a relatively large bird. Body length: 64 cm Width of the wings: 130 cm. The male has orange-brown body plumage and a paler, orange-brown head and neck, separated from the body by a narrow black collar. The rump, flight feathers, tail-coverts and tail feathers are black and there are iridescent green speculum feathers on the inner surfaces of the wings. Both upper and lower wing-coverts are white, this feature being particularly noticeable in flight but hardly visible when the bird is at rest. The bill is black and the legs are dark grey. The female is similar but has a rather pale, whitish head and neck and lacks the black collar, and in both sexes, the colouring is variable and fades as the feathers age. The birds moult at the end of the breeding season and the male loses the black collar, but a further partial moult between December and April restores it. Juveniles are similar to the female but are a darker shade of brown.
The weight of the Ruddy Shelduck varies between 1.2 and 1.6 kg. It walks well on land, swims well, but rarely dives. Fly fast, the flight is noisy. The call is a series of loud, nasal honking notes, it being possible to discern the difference between those produced by the male and the female and sounds like an “ang, ang”, where it bears its name.
Distribution and Habitat
Paleoxerne species. Its main area ranges from Southeast Europe (Balkans, Black Sea), Ukraine, Turkey to the east through Central and Eastern Asia to China and Mongolia; to the north reaches the area of the Lake Baikal, and to the south – to Iran, Iraq, Tibet. A small population is in Northwest Africa (Algeria, Morocco) and in the mountainous parts of Ethiopia.
Its typical breeding habitat is large wetlands and rivers with mud flats and shingle banks, and it is found in large numbers on lakes and reservoirs, fishponds and dams, open water areas in open pitches and farmland. It often feeds in the field away from the water.
In Bulgaria Ruddy Shelduck is a nesting and migrating species, which is exceptionally wintering and is mainly found in small water basins in the interior of Dobroudza and the Black Sea. About half of the breeding pairs inhabits the open terrains of Northeastern Bulgaria. It is also inhabited in the region around Bourgas-Lake Vaya.
The Ruddy Shelduck eats food from both animal and plant origin. Seeks food on land or in water. In spring, it feeds mainly on sprouted plants and seeds, the summer passes on insects and small invertebrates, while autumn visits the agricultural areas and goes to cereals, in the absence of such continues to feed on small invertebrates, but adds to its diet and aquatic plants .
Most of the time the Ruddy Shelduck is kept in pairs. The nest is usually located away from the ponds about 2-5 km, but it is not uncommon and 10 km. Like the White Shelduck, he prefers to build his nest in holes in the ground using holes drifting from badgers and foxes; also nests in holes on the trees, sometimes at a height of 10 m. There are cases where it has nestled on the roofs of buildings. A monogamous bird, a leading role to a large extent is the female who chooses the male during the wedding period. The female lays between 7 and 18 eggs, most often about 14, which are ivory-colored. Incubates the eggs around 28-29 days and when the eggs hatch in late May, the small ones are grown equally by both parents.
Rare for Bulgaria species included in the Red Book of Endangered Species.