Cape Shoveler Duck
The Cape Shoveler Duck species has a large spatulate bill. Adults have speckled grey-brown plumage and dull orange legs. As with many southern hemisphere ducks, the sexes appear similar, but the male has a paler head than the female, a pale blue fore-wing separated from the green speculum by a white border, and yellow eyes. The female’s fore-wing is grey. It is a bird of open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some emergent vegetation, and feeds by dabbling for plant food, often by swinging its bill from side to side to strain food from the water.
Male – The male Cape Shoveler duck has a speckled blackish crown and hind neck, a pale grey-buff face and throat, yellow eyes, a large black spatulate beak, a reddish-brown body with light-buff feather edges giving a mottled appearance, a green-black rump and upper tail, tertials and scapulars are a glossy blue-black, the primary wing feathers are brown, the fore-wing is pale blue, the speculum is metallic green-blue with a white border, and the legs and feet are yellow-orange.
Female – The female Cape Shoveler duck is similar but has a dull brownish and more mottled appearance, a darker head, brown eyes, a dark brownish-grey spatulate beak, the wings are greyish, and the legs and feet are a greyish-yellow.
Size: – Typical Adult is 20-21 inches.
Food: – Crustaceans, molluscs, insects, also aquatic plants and seeds. The large spatulate beak is used to filter aquatic invertebrates and insects from the water.
Habitat: – Open, fresh and brackish wetlands, lakes, marshes, estuaries, and coatal lagoons in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana.
Breeding Season: – Mainly August to December but variable depending on water levels and food.
Eggs: – 5 to 12 (creamy with greenish tint).
Notes: – The Cape Shoveler is a South African dabbling duck. It is non-migratory but undertakes some local seasonal movements. The Cape Shoveler can be mistaken for a vagrant female Northern Shoveler but the Cape Shoveler is much darker and stockier.
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.