One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large goose-like Old World duck with brightly coloured plumage, typically showing black and white wings in flight.
Genus Tadorna, family Anatidae: several species, in particular T. tadorna of Eurasian coasts, with white, greenish-black, and chestnut plumage
- ‘Dozens of humans and millions of domesticated birds have died in at least eight Asian countries so far, and now China has said the disease is killing wild bar-headed geese, cormorants, and shelducks.’
- ‘One of the most attractive of our waterfowl, the goose-like shelduck is renowned for its spectacular moult gatherings along the northern coast of Germany.’
- ‘The downy chicks are similar in markings to those of the shelduck.’
- ‘Low-level attacks against crèches of Canada geese and shelduck are another spectacle, the avocets performing highly attractive ‘butterfly’ flights.’
- ‘My first sighting was of large numbers of pink-footed geese and wigeon along with some ringed plover and shelduck.’
Middle English (as sheldrake): probably from dialect sheld ‘pied’ (related to Middle Dutch schillede ‘variegated’) + duck. The form shelduck dates from the early 18th century.
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