Northern Shoveler

Bird of the Month: Northern Shoveler

By Hugh Jennings

PC: Mick Thompson (Northern Shoveler)

PC: Mick Thompson (Northern Shoveler)

Scientific Name: Anas Clypeata

Length 19 in

AOU Band code NOSH

The long, spoon-shaped bill gives this small duck a front-heavy look.  It is about 19” long and the four letter code is NOSH.  When swimming, it sits low with the bill angled toward the water.  The males’ belly and sides are rufous with a pale blue patch on the forewing, green head and white breast.  Females are brown streaked with a spatula shaped bill that is gray on top and orange along the opening.  The NOSH in flight overhead has a dark belly, white chest and spoon bill.  The top of the duck shows a large bluish shoulder patch while in flight.  It feeds at water’s surface by straining out small organisms with the comblike edge of the large bill.  It eats insects, other invertebrates, duckweed and submerged aquatic plants.  The concealed nest of grasses is lined with down placed in a depression in the ground and can be more then 100 yards from the nearest water.  The female lays 6-14 pale greenish buff eggs which batch in 21-28 days.  The NOSH are usually found in small flocks or pairs.  They summer on open shallow lakes and marches in eastern Washington, northern U.S. and Canada.  They are common in the Puget Sound area in fall, winter and spring and should start showing up here again in October.