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North American Shoveler
N. A. Shoveler

[ Philippine Duck ] [ Black Duck ] [ Gadwall ]
[ N. A. Shoveler ]



The very large, speculate bill is the most distinguishing feature of the aptly named Northern Shoveler. The male in breeding plumage has bright wings, a bright iridescent-green head with a yellow eye, bold white breast, and chestnut sides. Females, juveniles, and males in eclipse plumage (from May through August) are mottled brown with orange legs and a green-black iridescent speculum with a blue patch on the forewing.


Pair formation begins in the winter and continues during spring migration. Males remain with the females through the incubation period. The female chooses the site (generally in short grass). She builds the nest, a shallow depression made of grass and weeds, lined with down, and incubates the 9 to 12 eggs for 23 to 28 days by herself. A few hours after they hatch, the female leads the young to the water where they can swim and forage immediately. The young typically stay close to the cover of emergent vegetation, and the female tends them until they fledge at 52 to 66 days of age.



General Comments

Northern Shovelers rarely tip up, but filter mud through their bills, swimming with their heads outstretched, bills skimming the water's surface, sifting out food. In flight they stay in tight bunches, weaving to and fro like shorebirds. Shovelers are the most territorial of all the North American dabblers, and pair bonds remain intact through incubation, unlike most other species of ducks.



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Shoveler Drake

Shoveler Hen

Shoveler Pair

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