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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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
17.3–20.1 in
44–51 cm
14.1–28.9 oz
400–820 g
Other Names
  • Shoveler
  • Canard souchet (French)
  • Pato chucharrón norteño (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The bill of the Northern Shoveler is about 6.5 cm (2.5 inches) long. The bill has has about 110 fine projections (called lamellae) along the edges, for straining food from water.
  • Northern Shoveler pairs are monogamous, and remain together longer than pairs of other dabbling duck species.
  • When flushed off the nest, a female Northern Shoveler often defecates on its eggs, apparently to deter predators.



Breeds in open, shallow wetlands. In winter, inhabits both freshwater and saline marshes.



Small swimming invertebrates and some seeds.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
8–12 eggs
Egg Description
Pale greenish gray or olive-buff.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in down and able to walk and swim.
Nest Description

A simple scrape lined with down and usually surrounded on at least three sides by vegetation. Placed in short vegetation near water.

Nest Placement




Males exhibit elaborate courtship behavior, including various calls, turns, dips, and wing flaps.Forages by swimming along with bill lowered into the water, straining out small crustaceans and other invertebrates. It does not commonly tip its head and upper body forward into the water.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Breeding populations appear to be relatively stable.


  • Dubowy, P. J. 1996. Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata). In The Birds of North America, No. 217 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and the American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Northern Shoveler Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

You Might Also Like

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.



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