At the beginning of waterbird hunting season, we want to introduce to the Specially Protected Bird Species The common shelduck. Unfortunately, for the common shelduck, the beginning of the hunting of water birds is full of worries. Its chickens have not yet matured to go independent, as well as adults are threatened by inaccurately targeted projectiles.

The common shelduck is known also as the Saaremaa Duck. The male has an expressly mound above the base of the beak, the beak is brightly red, more than for females. Females are slightly smaller than males, the difference is well seen observing both sexes at the same time. The young birds can be distinguished from the adults by the unformed, mottled feathered dress and by the colour of the legs, the young’s have grey, while for adults they are filthy pink. The common shelducks feather dress should be described as un-mixable with another species, mainly white with highly segregated areas, a brown band around the chest, a black-greenish glossy neck and a headband and wings.

In the waters of Latvia common shelducks are found on the coast of Gulf of Riga, where they are also nest on the ground, in difficult accessible tunnels, often under buildings that are built on rocks. Elsewhere, nesting in rabbit-mined caves has also been detected. The nest can contain up to 15 eggs. The chickens, following their parents, leave their nest soon after hatching - they are ligated refugees. If the nesting was successful, the couple returns to the same location next year. Most of young birds, especially females, return to nesting in their homes.

Common shelducks feed in the shallow water areas or in the standing coastal compound with aquatic invertebrates, molluscs and also plants.

Outside the breeding time, common shelducks are social and can form large groups, but they behave territorial during nesting. In spite of this, the Saaremaa ducks also form so-called nursery schools - accepting foreign chicks who, for various reasons, stray or whose parents died.

The LIFE REEF project team wishes knowledge of biodiversity and to be responsible for any actions in nature.