Northern Shoveler

Northern Shovelers are so named because of their unique over-sized shovel shaped bill. Male Northern Shovelers have bright green heads, rusty red sides and white chest and belly. Female Northern Shovelers are mottled brown with their large spoon like bills being orange.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Spatula clypeata
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
5-10 Years
SIZE
17-20 ” | 1.5-2 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
Waterfowl
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

When breeding the Northern Shoveler prefers shallow wetland areas with lots of vegetation. When not in breeding season they will use many different types of standing water like lakes, wetlands, agricultural ponds, and wastewater ponds. In Nevada, these ducks can be found throughout the state and in the northern parts of Nevada they can be seen year-round.

  • Agricultural Lands
  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Marsh

Threats

  • Drought
  • Habitat Loss
  • Water Diversion

Natural History

Female Northern Shovelers do most of the nest-building. Their nests are on land, but very close to water. Between nine and eleven eggs are laid, and the female incubates the eggs on her own. When the eggs hatch, ducklings can swim and follow their mom around for food.
The Northern shoveler’s distinctive beak helps it to sift through the water and forage for food. They are omnivores and use their beak to consume aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans, seeds, stems, and leaves. These are a dabbling duck meaning that they stay above water when feeding and do not regularly dive for their food. Unlike other dabbling ducks the Shoveler keeps its head above water when foraging and moves its beak back and forth on the top of the water to filter out anything they might want to eat.

Fun Facts

The oldest record Shoveler was found in Nevada and at least 16 years old! Due to having bright green heads, the males of this species are sometimes confused with Mallards.