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Merlin Bird ID

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    Northern Shoveler

    Silhouette DucksDucks

    Northern Shoveler

    Spatula clypeata
    • ORDER: Anseriformes
    • FAMILY: Anatidae
    Basic Description

    Perhaps the most outwardly distinctive of the dabbling ducks thanks to its large spoon-shaped bill, the Northern Shoveler busily forages head down in shallow wetlands. Its uniquely shaped bill has comblike projections along its edges, which filter out tiny crustaceans and seeds from the water. If the bill doesn’t catch your eye, the male's blocky color palette sure will, with its bright white chest, rusty sides, and green head. The female is no less interesting with a giant orange bill and mottled brown plumage.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Northern ShovelerRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    National Wildlife Refuges are a great place to look for Northern Shovelers from migration throughout the winter months (August–April). Look around the fringes of shallow areas for groups of ducks with their heads down foraging intently. They tend to use more stagnant pools of water than other ducks, so you may also find them in smaller and murkier pools of water. The male's bright white chest will surely attract your attention if you don't immediately see their giant bill. Shovelers are a little less wary than other ducks, sometimes affording closer looks without the need of a spotting scope.

    Other Names
    • Cuchara Común (Spanish)
    • Canard souchet (French)
    • Cool Facts