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Northern Shoveler


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.
  • The oldest recorded Northern Shoveler was a male, and at least 16 years, 7 months old when he was found in Nevada. he had been banded in California.



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

Northern 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.


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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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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