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Radjah Shelduck (Rajah rajah) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding



  • Limited study (Frith 1967)
  • Diet composition appears to vary with geography (Marchant and Higgins 1990; Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)
    • More animal food in Northern Territory
    • More plant matter in northern Queensland

Food items

  • Invertebrates (Phillips 1922; Frith 1967; Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)
    • Aquatic molluscs and worms
    • Insects
  • Plant matter (Frith 1967; Marchant and Higgins 1990; Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)
    • Algae
    • Sedges
    • Possibly the seeds of native plants
      • Not rice


Social behavior

  • Feed in pairs or small groups (Pizzey 2012)
  • Pairs appear to defend a feeding territory (Frith 1967)

Finding food

  • Move about quickly (Marchant and Higgins 1990)
  • Forage along shoreline, edges of marsh, or in shallow water (Pizzey 2012)
    • Typically feed entirely on land or in water about 1 to 2 inches deep (Frith 1967)
    • Prefer wet or soft ground (Frith 1967; Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)
  • Wade along water’s edge and move bill from side-to-side (Marchant and Higgins 1990; Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)
    • Filter mud or water (at surface)
    • Graze
  • While swimming, dabble (Pratt and Beehler 2014) or upend in shallow water (Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)

Feasting in the Shallows

Two Radjah Shelducks dip bills into stream

Radjah Shelducks commonly forage along shorelines and the edges of marshes.

These ducks prefer to feed in shallow water, where they can easily wade.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Sandy Snacks

Radjah Shelduck foraging on beach

Radjah Shelducks forage on a sandy beach in Queensland, Australia.

Living in coastal habitats, Radjah Shelducks feed on a variety of molluscs, worms, and algae.

Image credit: © John Attkinson via Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Image location: Cape Palmerston National Park

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