Northern ShovelerAnas clypeata Linnaeus
Status Uncommon locally in summer, rare transient elsewhere. Breeds. The bird was a very rare vagrant in the nineteenth century; Gilpin (1880) and Jones (1885) give specimen records for April 1879. Other old records are of individuals shot near Digby in December 1916 and on Bon Portage Island on 15 September 1919. None was reported again until 24 November 1955, when two appeared on Bon Portage Island, one of which was shot (H.F. Lewis). Since the early 1970s it has become quite regular in the province, possibly because of augmentation by birds that have escaped from the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park. However, it behaves as a normal migrant, arriving generally in April (average 11 April, earliest 2 April), and departing before winter (average of last sightings 22 October, latest 22 November).
Description Length: 43-53 cm. All plumages: Spatulate bill longer than head. Adult male: Head and upper neck dark iridescent bluish green; back white with middle area dark brown; lower neck and breast white; belly and sides rufous; undertail and uppertail coverts dark green; lesser wing coverts light blue; greater wing coverts dark gray, tipped with white; speculum green. Adult female: Throat buffy white; head and neck streaked with light brown and black; above is dark brown, the feathers margined and spotted with light buff; wing coverts and speculum as in male; rest of underparts washed with buff, spotted all over with brown except middle part of belly.
Breeding Nest: On the ground, well concealed, usually near water. Eggs: 6-11; pale buff to greenish gray. The first evidence of breeding was recorded by Alan D. Smith, who found a brood on the Missaguash river marsh, Cumberland County, on 27 July 1968. Since then nests or broods have been reported in that area, the Annapolis Valley and Three Fathom Harbour, Halifax County.
Range In North America, breeds from Alaska, east to Manitoba and sporadically to Nova Scotia, and south to California, Iowa and Delaware. Winters from coastal southern British Columbia southward, and along the Atlantic coast from South Carolina, south to the Gulf Coast, Costa Rica and the West Indies, casually as far north as Maine. lt is also found in Europe and Asia.
Remarks The name of this bird refers to the peculiar shape of its bill, which is longer than the bird's head and broader at the end than at the base. It is known to some duck hunters as the "spoonbill." Slightly smaller than our American Black Duck, the drake in breeding plumage is strikingly handsome, showing more white than any other member of the dabbling duck group. The drably coloured female is polyandrous, a trait not commonly found in ducks. In North America the Northern Shoveler is primarily a western species.
Questions? Comments? E-mail us at: Museumfirstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Credits and copyright information. Last updated February 20, 1998
Best viewed with Netscape 3.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0 or later.
For further information contact Webmaster, Nova Scotia Museum.