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Northern Shoveler - Spatula clypeata



 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Anseriformes
 Family: Anatidae
 Genus:  Spatula
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Northern ShovelerThe northern shoveler is a medium-sized dabbling duck. Its most unique feature is its large shovel-shaped bill. During the breeding season, male shovelers have shiny green heads, a white body, rusty-red undersides, and black wings. In non-breeding season their color is a little duller and their head and breast are brown. Male shovelers have yellow eyes and a black bill.

Northern ShovelerFemale northern shovelers have mottled brown, black and white feathers and a blue patch on their wings. Their eyes are brown and their bill is a brownish green.



mapThe northern shoveler breeds from Alaska east to northern Manitoba and south to California and the Great Lakes region. It winters from Oregon south to California and east across the southern United States and up the east coast to New Jersey. It also winters in Mexico, Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean.


Northern ShovelerThe northern shoveler is found in marshes and prairie potholes. It needs habitats with shallow water with muddy bottoms.


Northern ShovelerThe northern shoveler is a filter feeder. It skims its bill just above the bottom of a pond or lake and sucks water into the front of its bill. It then uses the comb-like teeth on its bill to strain out plants and aquatic animals. It squirts the excess water out of the sides of its bill.

Life Cycle

Northern ShovelerThe female lays eight to twelve eggs in a nest made of grass and leaves and lined with down and feathers. The nest is built on the ground under a bush or in tall vegetation. The female incubates the eggs.

Northern ShovelerThey hatch in about three weeks. Soon after hatching, the female leads her ducklings to the the water and teaches them how to catch insects and find plants to eat. The ducklings fledge in 40 to 70 days.


During the heat of the day, the shoveler often rests on the mud next to the water.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Patrik Aberg cc logo