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Northern Shoveler Ducks

Northern Shoveler Ducks, Vancouver Island, BC
Northern Shoveler Ducks, Vancouver Island, BC. Copyright By Pauline Greenhalgh

Northern Shoveler Ducks are present year-round in the Pacific Northwest but are more common during the nonmating 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 a 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 shovelers have a light brownish head with a black crown and a brownish speckled body. The upper wing coverts are grayish-blue, the greater secondary coverts are tipped with white and the secondaries are brown with a slightly greenish color. The bill is dark green with light orange in the gape area and speckled with black dots.

Northern Shoveler Ducks, Vancouver Island, BC
Northern Shoveler Ducks, Vancouver Island, BC, Copyright By Pauline Greenhalgh

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. The nest is 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.

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