The Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), sometimes known simply as the shoveler, is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America, wintering in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central, and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.
The Northern shoveler is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. The conservation status of this bird is Least Concern.
This species is unmistakable in the northern hemisphere due to its large spatulate bill. The breeding drake has an iridescent dark green head, white breast and chestnut belly, and flanks. In flight, pale blue forewing feathers are revealed, separated from the green speculum by a white border. In early fall the male will have a white crescent on each side of the face. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake resembles the female.
The female is a drab mottled brown like other dabblers, with plumage much like a female Mallard, but easily distinguished by the long, broad bill, which is gray tinged with orange on cutting edge and lower mandible. The female’s forewing is gray. [Wikipedia]
Perhaps the most outwardly distinctive of the dabbling ducks, the Northern Shoveler inhabits wetlands across much of North America. Its elongated, spoon-shaped bill has comblike projections along its edges, which filter out food from the water. [All About Birds]
Northern Shoveler Facts [All About Birds]
- The bill of the Northern Shoveler is about 6.5 cm (2.5 inches) long. The bill has about 110 fine projections (called lamellae) along the edges, for straining food from water.
- Northern Shoveler pairs are monogamous, and remain together longer than pairs of other dabbling duck species.
- When flushed off the nest, a female Northern Shoveler often defecates on its eggs, apparently to deter predators.
- The oldest recorded Northern Shoveler was a male, and at least 16 years, 7 months old when he was found in Nevada. He had been banded in California.