Northern shoveler

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The northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata) is a medium sized dabbling duck belonging to the family Anatidae.

The northern shoveler species is distributed in Northern America, Europe and Asia. Wintering populations occur in Southern Europe, Southern and Eastern Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Africa and South America.

Taxonomy of Northern shoveler

  • Scientific Name: Spatula clypeata
  • Common Name: Northern shoveler
  • French: Canard souchet; German: Löffelente; Spanish: Cuchara comĂșn;
  • Other names: Anas clypeata Linnaeus, 1758; northern shoveller; shoveller;
  • Family: Anatidae › Anseriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)

Spatula clypeata is considered to be close to S. rhynchotis. Spatula clypeata (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously included in the genus Anas.

Indian birds - Northern shoveler - Spatula clypeata
Indian birds - Northern shoveler - Spatula clypeata

AshishTripurwar | CC BY-SA 4.0 as on 9/25/18


The northern shoveler species are medium sized birds, males measuring 40 to 55 cm and weighing 500 to 1100 grams. The female birds are smaller and weigh 450 to 750 grams. The wingspan is 70 to 85 cm.

The breeding shoveler drake has an iridescent dark green head. The belly and flanks are white. The breast is reddish chestnut. The speculum of shoveler drake is green. The pale blue fore wing feathers have white border, separating them from speculum.

The long broad bill is gray and is tinged orange on the cutting edge and lower mandible.


The northern shoveler species inhabit shallow lakes and water bodies with emergent and fringe vegetation. Wintering shoveler birds are seen in freshwater and brackish water bodies. They also occur in marshes, mudflats, estuaries and coastal habitats.

Feeding habits

The broad flat bill has lamellae on the edge of the bill which acting like sieves, helping in filtering crustaceans and plankton from the water's surface. The northern shoveler species feed on invertebrates, aquatic insects, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic vegetation.


The northern shoveler species nest on the ground among dense grass or reeds. The breeding season is during April and May. The shoveler lay up to nine eggs.


The breeding populations occur in North America, North Europe and North Asia. Wintering shoveler populations are found in Central and South America, Southern Europe, Africa, Indian Subcontinent, China and Southeast Asia.

Movement Patterns

The northern shoveler species is highly migratory and the birds from North America move to South America and Central America for wintering.

The North European shoveler birds move southwards up to Africa for wintering. The birds from North Asia move to Indian Subcontinent, East Asia, and Southeast Asia for wintering.

Status and conservation

The global population of the northern shoveler species is estimated to be between 5,500,000 and 6,000,000 individual birds. The global population size and range is very large and hence of least conservatory concern.

The shoveler species is threatened by habitat degradation, pollution and hunting.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these northern shoveler species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Spatula clypeata
Species:S. clypeata
Binomial name:Spatula clypeata
Distribution:Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and South America;
Feeding habits:crustaceans, aquatic insects, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plants, and weeds;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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