On Dec 7, 2012, RosinaBloom from Waihi New Zealand (Zone 1) wrote:
Flightless during its summer moult period, early European writers descibed Marlborough Maori gathering as many as 5000 Paradise Shelduck birds at a time, storing some for their own use, and sending the rest to the Wellington market. Slaughter on that scale no longer occurs. Numbers have now recovered from the decline in the late nineteenth century. The principle North Island habitat is grazed pasture. Breeding pairs are found on stock ponds, while flocks tend to stay nearer larger bodies of water or on open grass flats. Birds are commonly found on wide gravel riverbeds in the South Island, and beside high country lakes. Small numbers may be seen along streams or on coastal flats, lakes and lagoons. They are partial to young grass, clover shoots, grains and seed-heads, newly sown pasture and crops, swamp and pond grasses, insects, earthworms and crustaceans. They first breed in their second or third year, and pairs stay together for life where they occupy and defend territories throughout the year, except for about 2 months spent at a moulting site. Non-breeding birds remain in large flocks. Females coming to maturity incite the males to fight one another, and choose mates among the more successful fighters. New pairs start to prospect for territories towards the end of October-November breeding season, and nesting begins the following August. Nests are usually depressions in the ground, thickly overlaid with down and concealed. Some birds nest in hollow logs, rock crevices or in holes up to 20m high in trees. An egg is layed each day until ther are 8 to 12, and the female alone incubates them for 30 to 32 days. She leaves the nest to feed for about one hour during every 5 or 6 hours of daylight. The male accompanies his mate back to the nest, but spends the rest of the incubation time waiting at the centre of the territory, and stands at the nest site only when the eggs have hatched. Both parents lead the ducklings to water after they have been brooded in the nest for about 24 hours, and guard them throughout the fledging period of about 8 weeks. Late breeding pairs sometimes breed their young on the same ponds as earlier breeders, leading to a mistaken belief that the species breeds twice a season. Their average death rate is about 35 percent, and their average expectation of further life is only two more years. Five months after fledging some juvenile birds have been found more than 200 km from their birthplace. Otherwise they do not travel far. The head and neck of the male is black, whereas the female's head and neck is white. High pitched female alarm call, and deep honking by male.