Northern Shoveler

Spatula clypeata




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive buff or green gray.

Number of Eggs:

6 - 19

Incubation Days:

21 - 27

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Close to water or on high prairie ground.

Nest Material:

Grasses and weeds lined with down.





Northern Shoveler: Medium-sized dabbling duck with white breast, white-bordered black back and rufous-brown underparts and sides; iridescent green head and neck; large black bill; pale yellow eyes. Wings have large pale blue shoulder patches, white bars and green speculum; orange legs and feet. Eclipse male is duller and heavily mottled; has reduced green on head and neck and dark-saddled orange bill. Female resembles small Mallard hen with over-sized bill and orange eyes. Juvenile is similar to female; has gray saddle on bill and dark eyes.

Range and Habitat

Northern Shoveler: Breeds from Alaska and northern Manitoba south to California, Nebraska, and Wisconsin; local and uncommon in the Great Lakes area and the northeast. Winters from Oregon across the southern half of the U.S. to the Gulf Coast, north to New Jersey, and south to Central America. Prefers marshes and prairie potholes; sometimes found on salt or brackish marshes.

Breeding and Nesting

Northern Shoveler: They breed in parklands, the short- and mixed-grass prairies of Canada, and the grasslands of the north-central United States. Six to nineteen olive buff or green gray eggs are laid in a down-lined cup of grass concealed in vegetation, often far from water. Incubation takes from 21 to 27 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Northern Shoveler: Their diet includes tiny crustaceans, mollusks, insects, seeds, fish and aquatic vegetation. They usually forage in the open water column. If the water is very shallow, they often dabble through the mud on the bottom. Less commonly, they pick food items off submerged vegetation. They also may swim occasionally with their head under water or tip-up or dive to feed under water.


Northern Shoveler: Makes a low croak, cluck, or quack. In courtship, utters a guttural "who, who, who" or "took, took, took."

Similar Species

Northern Shoveler: Mallard has smaller bill, and chestnut-brown breast, and lacks blue shoulder patch. Blue-winged Teal is smaller, has brown body and gray head, and white crescent on face.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

The upper front part of a bird.
The short feathers overlying the median secondary coverts on the top of the wing. They are located near the back and can be seen as the “first row” of feathers on the birds wing. They are also called marginal coverts and lesser secondary coverts.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X