The Northern Shoveler Ducks of the Pacific Northwest
The northern shoveler is present year round on the BC Coast but is more common during the non mating season which is from October to March.
The northern shoveler has a large spoon shaped bill, which widens towards the tip and creates a shovel shape. The male northern shoveler ducks have an bright green head and neck, white chest, white breast, dark brown belly and sides. They have a white stripe that runs from the breast along the margin of the gray brown back, and white flank spots. The wings have a grayish blue shoulder patch, which is separated from a bright green wing patch by a white stripe. The bill is black in breeding plumage and the legs and feet are orange.
The female northern shoveler’s have a light brownish head with a blackish crown and a brownish speckled body. The upper wing coverts are grayish blue, the greater secondary coverts are tipped with white and the secondary’s are brown with a slight greenish color. The bill is dark green with light orange in the gape area and speckled with black dots.
Northern shoveler’s breed in the short and mixed grass prairies of Canada and the north central United States. They prefer shallow marshes that are mud bottomed. Nest are generally located on the ground in grassy areas lacking woody cover and away from open water.The female will lay up to 9 eggs.
Northern shovelers fly from the prairie region to the pacific coast where they winter from Vancouver Island down to California. Wintering habitat includes fresh and brackish coastal marshes, river estuaries and ponds.
Northern shoveler’s feed by dabbling and sifting in shallow water. Seeds and weeds, as well as aquatic insects, mollusks and crustaceans are all on the menu.