Northern Shoveler Duck
The Northern Shoveler Duck feeds by dabbling for plant food, often by swinging its bill from side to side and using the bill to strain food from the water. They use their highly specialized bill (from which their name is derived) to forage for aquatic invertebrates – a carnivorous diet. Their wide-flat bill is equipped with well-developed lamellae – small, comb-like structures on the edge of the bill that act like sieves, allowing the birds to skim crustaceans and plankton from the water’s surface.
Male – The male Northern shoveler duck has a metallic green head, yellow-orange eyes, large black spatula shaped beak, white breast, chestnut under-sides and flanks, the rump and upper-tail are black, the sides of the rump are white, pale-blue fore wing feathers, green speculum bordered with white, and the legs and feet are orange-red.
Female – The female Northern shoveler duck has the same large spatula shaped beak which is grey-brown, and is mostly mottled-brown and buff with a bluish shoulder patch.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage is similar to the female but has a darker head, reddish flanks, retains the wing color as well as the yellow eyes and dark beak.
Size – Typical Adult is about 19 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, wet grassland, lakes and marshes in northern Europe into Asia and the north-west of North America. Winters further south in southern Europe, north Africa, India, Vietnam, south China, Japan, California and Mexico.
Breeding Season – Early April to June in southern parts.
Eggs – 8 to 12 (pale-buff and olive-tinted color).
Notes – The Northern shoveler duck is a dabbling duck with an extremely large range from North America, Europe to Asia.
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.