Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)


Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family:    Anatidae
Size:    Length: 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 cm)  Wingspan 30 to 33 inches (76 to 83 cm)
Weight: 1.5 pounds (680 g)
Diet: Vegetation, insects, molluscs and small fish
Distribution: Northern Hemisphere
Young:  6 to 12 ducklings, once a year
Animal Predators:  Birds of prey, cats, dogs, raccoons, opossums, skunks, foxes, weasels and martens
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Duckling  Male: Drake  Female:  Hen   Group:  Flock or Brace
Lifespan: 2 to 3 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity



·     The northern shoveler is also called a “spoonbill” because of its uniquely shaped bill.

·     These ducks dive underwater and use their wings to propel themselves through the water.

·     The call of the male is “woh-woh” and “took-took,” while the female quacks.

·     Northern shovelers have been featured on stamps around the world including Belgium, Uganda, Grenada, Ghana and Romania.



At first glance, northern shovelers resemble mallards because the females are extremely similar, and the males both have shiny green heads. There are, however, several differences. Male northern shovelers have much more white than mallards, as well as a dark bill (mallards have light-coloured bills) and shovelers have orange eyes while those of mallards are dark. The most uniquely distinctive feature is their large, shovel-shaped bill.



Northern shovelers are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere during the summer—across North America, Europe and northern Asia. They winter in the southwest U.S., Central America, northern Africa and southern Asia. Shovelers live in saltwater and freshwater marshes, as well as other shallow water sources with muddy bottoms.  


Feeding Habits

Northern shovelers are surface feeders that skim through the water in search of vegetation, insects, molluscs and small fish. They suck the food into their bills, and using comb-like teeth to filter the food from the water, they then squirt the excess water out through the sides of the bill with their tongues. The excess water is then squirted out through the sides of their bill with their tongue. 



The breeding season occurs from April to June. The female builds a cup-shaped nest of dry grass and lines it with feather down. She then lays six to 12 pale green eggs. While she incubates them, the male brings her food and guards the nest from intruders. The ducklings hatch approximately 25 days later. They are born with feathers and begin to walk almost right away, following their mother over land and into the water to swim. The ducklings have typical duckbills when they are born, but the bills enlarge and become shovel-shaped as they mature. After 40 to 45 days, the young are able to fly and become independent. 



Shovelers are social and friendly ducks that live in small flocks of about 20, but co-exist peacefully with many other species. In hot weather, they rest on mud near the water’s edge. They are very susceptible to cold and are among the first birds to fly south for the winter. 



Northern shovelers are not a conservation concern.



Northern Shoveler Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US