NORTHERN SHOVELER


Anas clypeata


Description:

Like other dabbling ducks, this bird uses its large bill, which has comb-like teeth along the edges, to strain for aquatic plants, invertebrates, and seeds. Its tounge is used to pump out the water and catch food bits on the comb-like teeth. Large, shallow marshes provide the best place for this kind of feeding. Single ducks may swim in tight circles to create a whirlpool that brings food to the water surface. Un-like most ducks, this one keeps its bright mating plumage well into February.


Appearance:

General: 17 to 20 inches in length.

Male: Large, black, shovel shaped bill. Green head and neck. White chest, belly, and tail. Chestnut colored flanks and underbody with a white band on its hind flanks. Dark back. Pale blue upper secondary coverts. Yellow eye. Orange feet. Immature male looks similiar to adult female. Female: Large, "dirty" orange, shovel shaped bill. Mottled brown body and wings. Buff head, neck, and back. Dusky blue upper secondary coverts. Green speculum with white border. Brown eye. Orange feet.


Habitat:

Marshes (sometimes saltwater), and lagoons.


Nesting:

8-12 pale buff or greenish eggs with a 22-25 day incubation period. Fledging occurs 38-66 days after hatching. The nest is an open cup made from grass and lined with down. It is usually concealed in vegetation that is a good distance from water.


Observed Locations:

  • Santee Lakes, Santee
  • San Elijo Lagoon, Cardiff-by-the-Sea
  • Lindo Lake, Lakeside
  • Wild Animal Park, Escondido





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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.