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Merlin Bird ID

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    Northern Shoveler Life History


    Habitat MarshesBreeds in open, shallow wetlands. In winter, inhabits both freshwater and saline marshes.Back to top


    Food OmnivoreSmall swimming invertebrates and some seeds.Back to top


    Nest Placement

    Nest Ground

    Nest Description

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

    Nesting Facts
    Clutch Size:8-12 eggs
    Number of Broods:1 brood
    Egg Length:1.8-2.2 in (4.6-5.7 cm)
    Egg Width:1.3-1.5 in (3.3-3.9 cm)
    Incubation Period:22-25 days
    Egg Description:Pale greenish gray or olive-buff.
    Condition at Hatching:Covered in down and able to walk and swim.
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    Behavior Dabbler

    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.

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    Conservation Low ConcernNorthern Shoveler breeding populations appear to be relatively stable, and slightly increased between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. They are not listed in the 2014 State of the Birds Report.Back to top


    Dubowy, Paul J. 1996. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

    Dunne, P. (2006). Pete Dunne's essential field guide companion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, USA.

    Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin and D. Wheye (1988). The birder's handbook. A Field Guide to the natural history of North American birds, including all species that regularly breed north of Mexico. Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, USA.

    Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love (2016). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2016.1. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory, Laurel, MD, USA.

    Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

    Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski, Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

    Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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