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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Northern Shoveler


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Northern Shoveler Photo

Perhaps the most outwardly distinctive of the dabbling ducks, the Northern Shoveler inhabits wetlands across much of North America. Its elongated, spoon-shaped bill has comblike projections along its edges, which filter out food from the water.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized duck.
  • Very long bill, wider at tip than at base.
  • Male with iridescent green head, white chest, and rusty sides.

Male Description

Breeding Plumage: Head dark glossy green. Bill black. Back black. Chest white. Flanks and belly chestnut-brown. Eyes yellow.
Eclipse Plumage: Duller. Head and breast brownish black speckled with whitish or tan. Back black with tan feather edges. Flanks light brown. May show indistinct white crescent on face behind bill. Eyes yellow.

Female Description

Grayish-brown overall; some feathers have light edging with darker centers. Bill olive-green with yellowish base and edges. Eyes brown.

Immature Description

Similar to adult female.

Range Map Help

Northern Shoveler Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

  • Mallard has chestnut chest and pale flanks, as well as a smaller greenish yellow bill.
  • Blue-winged Teal and Cinnamon Teal have similar wing pattern in all plumages, but are smaller with much smaller bills.
  • Adult female and immature Northern Shoveler distantly resemble females and immatures of other duck species, but are easily distinguished by their very long bills.

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    Simple Steps for Identifying Confusing Brown Ducks—Females and Otherwise, All About Birds blog, November 21, 2014.

    What to Watch For: Duck Courtship [video], All About Birds blog, January 20, 2015.