Northern Shoveler, Spatula clypeata
Northern shovelers are medium-sized dabbling ducks known for their unique bill shape. Northern shovelers inhabit freshwater marshes, lakes, rivers, and coastal estuaries in parts of North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are often found in areas with shallow water and abundant aquatic vegetation. They also adapt to human-altered environments.
Northern shovelers use their large, spatula-shaped bills to filter small organisms and particles from the water. They forage for seeds, aquatic vegetation, algae, small invertebrates, crustaceans, and insect larvae.They often feed by swimming with their bills submerged and vigorously sweeping side to side. They also upend their bodies, reaching for food from shallow depths.
Female shovelers build nests on the ground in shallow depressions lined with plant material and down feathers typically concealed in dense vegetation, often in grassy or marshy areas near water bodies and sometimes on elevated sites for protection.
Shovelers typically lay 8-12 eggs in a single clutch. After the eggs are laid, the female incubates them for about 24-28 days. Once hatched, the ducklings leave the nest and follow the female to water, where they learn to swim and forage. The female provides care and protection to the young until they are capable of independent feeding and flight, which occurs around 45-50 days after hatching.
In North America, Northern shovelers often migrate south to the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. In Europe, they can be found in Mediterranean regions, as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East. In Asia, they migrate to southern and southeastern regions, including India, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.