A Closer Look at the Northern Shoveler

by Larry Jordan on January 30, 2013

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata) photos by Larry Jordan

The Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), unlike most dabbling ducks, has a bill ideally suited for straining small swimming crustaceans from the water (click on photos for full sized images).

Northern Shovelers

This is the drake in breeding plumage photographed at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge last week.

Northern Shoveler

Note the spatulate bill…

Northern Shoveler

perfectly shaped for straining the water surface while swimming.

This is a closer shot of the female Northern Shoveler.

Northern Shoveler

Here you can see the series of comblike lamellae (described as fine, almost hairlike, parallel ridges lining the bills of some waterbirds, including some geese and flamingos) along the lateral edge of the drake’s beak.

Northern Shoveler

To see more great bird photos, check out Wild Bird Wednesday and The Bird D’pot!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Boom & Gary January 30, 2013 at 7:20 am

Great series Larry. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


Gail January 30, 2013 at 7:30 am

The drakes are quite handsome. Thanks for the interesting info on these beautiful ducks.


TexWisGirl January 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

such cool ducks. so ‘head heavy’. 🙂


HansHB January 30, 2013 at 11:27 am

Great photos!
New ducks for me.
Well done!


Amanda January 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

Beautiful sharp photos! The female’s feathers are so lovely close up.


Wally January 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Larry, great post! Your images are top-notch! I love these beautiful ducks.


Jen January 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm

They look so similar to mallards. I’m going to have to look twice next time…


ingrid January 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Larry, that video of the feeding Shovelers is priceless! It so perfectly illustrates the behavior and it so endears me to them. I haven’t seen them this way — that is, so undisturbed and in such lovely, glassy water.

I was once hiking a trail in the Bay Area, no one else around. I kept hearing what I thought was the sound of fighter jets in the distance. It was only after a few minutes of observation before I realized that it was flock upon flock of Northern Shovelers, descending into a lake with their wings striking the air in such a way that the sound emulated an aircraft.


Stewart M January 31, 2013 at 1:13 am

We get a different species of Shoveler down here – there has been one local record of Northern – for a specimen shot 100 years ago!!

Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW.

Stewart M – Melbourne


Anni @ I'd Rather B Birdin January 31, 2013 at 2:18 am

Such detail in the wonderful photos, AND your commentary!!! They’re here in great numbers. And such an interesting duck.


Sallie (FullTime-Life) January 31, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Aren’t they lovely! I don’t have enough ducks in my life these days.


Eileen February 1, 2013 at 1:53 am

The Shovelers have beautiful colors! Great pic’s and photos, Larry!


Anni [I'd Rather B Birdin'] February 1, 2013 at 2:51 am

Hi again Larry…I just had to return to let you know I added your suet/bird cake recipe to my photo blog this morning. Thanks bunches! I too live in a very warm climate and I really appreciate the concept of a ‘no melt’ recipe. I’m sure to use this one. [Heck, by the ingredients, I could eat this too and enjoy it.] LOL


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