Anas clypeata Linnaeus, 1758
* Syst.Nat.ed.10 p.124
The Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), sometimes known simply as the Shoveler (pronounced /ˈʃʌvələr/), is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America, and is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.
The Northern Shoveler is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. The conservation status of this bird is Least Concern.
This species was described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 under its current scientific name. Usually placed in Anas like most dabbling ducks, it stands well apart from such species as the Mallard and together with the other shovelers and their relatives forms a "blue-winged" group that may warrant separation as genus Spatula.
No living subspecies are accepted today. Fossil bones of a very similar duck have been found in Early Pleistocene deposits at Dursunlu (Turkey). It is unresolved, however, how these birds were related to the Northern Shoveler of today; i.e., whether the differences noted were due to being a related species or paleosubspecies, or attributable to individual variation.
The female is light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard, but easily distinguished by the long broad bill, which is gray tinged with orange on cutting edge and lower mandible. The female's forewing is grey.
They are 19 inches long (48 cm) and have a wingspan of 30 inches (76 cm) with a weight of 1.3 pounds (600 g).
The nest is a shallow depression on the ground, lined with plant material and down, usually close to water.
This is a fairly quiet species. The male has a clunking call, whereas the female has a Mallard-like quack.
Habitat and range
This is a bird of open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some emergent vegetation.
This bird winters in southern Europe, Africa, northern South America, and the Malay Archipelago. In North America it winters south of a line from Washington to Idaho and from New Mexico east to Kentucky, also along the Eastern Seaboard as far north as Massachusetts. In the British Isles, home to more than 20% of the North Western European population, it is best known as a winter visitor, although it is more frequently seen in southern and eastern England, especially around the Ouse Washes, the Humber and the North Kent Marshes, and in much smaller numbers in Scotland and western parts of England. In winter, breeding birds move south, and are replaced by an influx of continental birds from further north.
This dabbling duck is strongly migratory and winters further south than its breeding range (so far so that there have been four reports in Australia). It is not as gregarious as some dabbling ducks outside the breeding season and tends to form only small flocks.
1. ^ a b IUCN (2009)
* AEWA "Annex 2: Waterbird species to which the Agreement applies". Agreement on the conservation of African-Eurasian migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). AEWA. http://www.unep-aewa.org/documents/agreement_text/eng/pdf/aewa_agreement_text_annex2.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
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