Australian Shoveler Duck
Australian Shoveler Ducks are specialist filter-feeding waterfowl with a large spoon-shaped or shovel-shaped bill that is almost twice as broad at its tip than at its base and which is the bird’s most conspicuous feature. Fine lamellae extend along most of the edge of the upper mandible and it is by pushing water through this lamellae curtain that small plankton and fine seeds are extracted. Australasian shoveler duck’s are widespread throughout the North and South Islands, rarely on Stewart Island. They are no longer resident on the Chatham Islands, but reach there occasionally as vagrants, and also once to the Snares Islands (May 1997) and Auckland Islands (Cape Expedition, World War II).
Shovelers mainly occur on large freshwater wetlands but may also be encountered in sheltered estuaries and brackish lakes. They also make seasonal use of dune lakes, temporary wetlands, and sewage ponds.
Male – The male Australian Shoveler duck has a blue-grey head with vertical white crescent in front of the eye, dark crown, large black spatula shaped beak, yellow eyes, chestnut flanks, black back and rump, wing-coverts are bluish-grey with white bars, white patches on the rear flanks, and legs and feet are orange.
Female – The female Australian Shoveler duck has the same large spatula shaped beak which is greyish-brown, mottled brown upper-parts, chestnut under-parts, and dark brown eyes.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage is similar to the female but has reddish flanks. The male can still be identified by having yellow eyes and a black beak.
Size: – Typical Adult is 18-22 inches.
Food: – Uses large beak to filter small animals, insects and plankton from the water. Also feeds on weeds, seeds, insects, and molluscs.
Habitat: – Wetlands, pools, lagoons, lakes and marshes in south-west and south-east Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.
Breeding Season: – Begins August to December.
Eggs: – 9 to 11 (creamy-white color).
Notes: – The Australian Shoveler duck is an Australian dabbling duck which is also called the Blue-winged Shoveler, South
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.