The Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata) is a freshwater, wetlands dabbling duck. It is a bird. Spatula means spoon – it has a spoon-shaped beak.
The Northern Shoveler has a large, broad, greyish spoon-shaped beak, called a spatulate beak. It often has an orange colour on the cutting edge of its beak and lower jaw. The male has an iridescent dark-green head, white chest, chestnut belly, and chestnut side feathers. In the breeding season, the male has a white crescent on each side of its face. The female is pale mottled brown.
It measures about 48 centimetres (19 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 76 centimetres (30 inches).
The Northern Shoveler is common and widespread across Europe, Asia, and North America. It likes rivers, streams, ponds, and wetlands.
It eats insects, crustaceans, and plankton. It dabbles for food, by swinging its beak from side to side in the water. Its beak acts like a filter as it strains the water for food. The filters on its beak are not teeth – they are lamellae, which are small, comb-like structures.
The Northern Shoveler prefers to nest in grassy areas away from open water. Its nest is a shallow depression on the ground, lined with plant material and soft downy feathers.
The female lays about 9 eggs. The males, called drakes, are territorial during breeding season and will defend their territory and partners from competing males.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM