Shoveler

Shoveler

Scientific name: Anas clypeata

Did you know: The UK is home to over 20% of the north-western European Shoveler population, making it a significant habitat for these unique ducks.

What Do Shovelers Look Like? (how to identify them)

Shovelers are easily recognised by their large, spoon-shaped bills, perfect for surface feeding. The males boast a striking appearance with dark green heads, contrasting white breasts, and chestnut sides. Females, on the other hand, display a mottled brown plumage. 

Both genders exhibit distinctive light blue and green patches on their wings when in flight. These ducks typically measure 44-52cm in length with a wingspan of 70-84cm.

Differences Between Male And Female Shovelers

During the breeding season, male Shovelers are particularly colourful with their dark green heads and bright white breasts, accompanied by orange-brown sides. Females, in contrast, are more subtly coloured with mottled brown feathers. 

Interestingly, male Shovelers undergo a transformation outside the breeding season, adopting a more camouflaged, mottled brown ‘eclipse’ plumage similar to the females.

What Do Shovelers Eat?

Shovelers have a specialised diet, primarily feeding on small insects and plant matter, which they skillfully sift from the water surface using their large, unique bills. This feeding habit makes them particularly adept at thriving in water bodies where they face less competition from other species.

Where Do Shovelers Live? (inc. migration info)

Shovelers are predominantly found in southern and eastern England, with smaller populations in Scotland and western England. They favour habitats like marine and intertidal zones, wetlands, and grasslands.

During winter, UK breeding birds migrate south, and their numbers are bolstered by an influx of Shovelers from continental Europe. This migratory pattern ensures a constant presence of these birds in the UK throughout the year.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Shovelers)

The Shoveler’s call is a unique aspect of their identity. Males typically produce a clucking sound, while females have a loud quack, distinct from other duck species. These calls play a crucial role in their social interactions, especially during the breeding season.

Fun Shoveler Facts (kid friendly)

  • Shovelers have one of the largest bills among ducks, resembling a spatula.
  • They can live up to 3 years in the wild.
  • The UK hosts about 1,100 breeding pairs and 19,500 wintering Shovelers.
  • Shovelers are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
  • Male Shovelers change their plumage after the breeding season for better camouflage.
  • These ducks are classified as an Amber List species due to their conservation status.
  • They have a wingspan ranging between 70-84cm.
  • The weight of a Shoveler can vary between 400-1,000g.
  • Shovelers are known to feed on zooplankton, a diet that sets them apart from other ducks.
  • In winter, Shovelers in the UK are joined by others from as far as western Russia.

Facts About The Shoveler

Diet: Small insects and plant matter sifted from the water.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 44-52cm
Wingspan: 70-84cm
Weight: 400-1000g
Scientific Name: Anas clypeata

The Shoveler Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Shoveler Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile