top of page

Northern Shoveler

Scientific Name:

Spatula clypeata




The preferred habitat for Northern Shovelers is marshes, wetlands, ponds and flooded agricultural fields.


Northern Shovelers are quite common and can be found throughout much of North America as well as Europe and may winter in Africa and India.


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


As one might expect, based on their name, the most distinctive characteristic of Northern Shovelers is their large spoon or shovel shaped bill, which is black in color on males, and orange on females. Their unique bill also contains 110 fine projections which act as a comb or sieve filtering the water to collect plant pieces, seeds, tiny crustaceans and small aquatic insects to eat. Unlike other dabbling ducks Northern Shovelers rarely lower their head completely under the water, instead they swim with their bill on the surface of the water and move their head back and forth as they filter for food. Northern Shovelers range from 17-20” in length, weigh about 1.5-2 pounds, and can have a wing span up to 33 inches. They are slightly smaller than a Mallard duck. Male Northern Shovelers have an iridescent green head, a white chest and rust colored sides, while the females are mostly mottled brown with a patch of powder blue on their wings.

Fast Facts:

  • The oldest recorded Northern Shoveler was over 16 years old and from Nevada.

  • Among the more monogamous of dabbling ducks, Northern Shovelers pair up on their wintering grounds and stay together until the fall migration.



Regina Hockett (Research & Content)

Erin Larsen (Editor)

Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:22 AM

bottom of page