Northern Shoveler

Anas clypeata

Image by Frank Schulenburg on Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Physical: The Northern Shoveler is a distinctive duck, thanks to its large, spoon-shaped bill, from which it gets its name. Males are striking with iridescent dark green heads, white chests, and russet sides. Females are mottled brown, similar to other dabbling ducks, but are set apart by their unique bill. They typically measure 17-20 inches in length.

Habitat: Northern Shovelers are commonly found in wetlands, marshes, ponds, and lakes. They prefer shallow freshwater environments, making them frequent inhabitants of prairie potholes and coastal marshes during their migration.

Feeding: Their spatulate bill is equipped with comb-like structures known as lamellae, allowing them to sift easily through the water to catch small aquatic invertebrates, seeds, and aquatic vegetation. They often feed by swinging their bill side to side in the water, filtering out food items.

Breeding: Northern Shovelers nest on the ground, often hidden in tall grasses or reeds to keep their nests concealed from predators. The female typically lays a clutch of 9-12 eggs and is primarily responsible for incubation. Once hatched, the ducklings are quick to venture into the water but rely on the mother’s guidance for some time.

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