© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Spatula clypeata

  • Name also: Northern Shoveler
  • Latin synonym: Anas clypeata
  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: A stocky, short-necked dabbling duck. Birds in all plumages can be recognised by their large shovel-like bill, which makes them look front heavy both when swimming and in flight.
  • Size: Length 44–52 cm, wingspan 73–82 cm, weight 490–740 g.
  • Nest: In open grassy areas near water, made of dry grass and dark downy feathers.
  • Breeding: 9–11 eggs laid in May, incubated by female for 22–28 days. Ducklings learn to fly at the age of about 7 weeks. They leave the nest soon after hatching and quickly learn to find food, but stay together as a brood with their mother.
  • Distribution: Nests by shallow, nutrient-rich “inland and coastal waters, mainly in Central and Southern Finland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 10,000–12,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Nocturnal. Leaves Finland August–October, returning April–May. Winters in Western Europe, around the Mediterranean and in Africa.
  • Diet: Aquatic vegetation, invertebrates.
  • Calls: Male’s spring mating call a clipped nasal with two syllables. Females make a clipped quacking call also with two syllables.

Shovelers are sturdily built, short-necked dabbling ducks with broad shovel-like bills. Males in breeding plumage are very colourful, with dark green heads, white breasts, and rusty brown bellies separated from their black vents by a white patch. From midsummer to late autumn males resembles females. They can, however, be identified by their light blue wing coverts and half-moon shaped patches between their bill and their eyes.

Females and juveniles are a fairly uniform light brown with darker patterning. In all plumages Shovelers have blue-grey colouring on the leading edges of their wings, and their wing specula are green with no white trailing edge. Their legs are orangey red or brown. Males’ bills are black in their breeding plumage, and otherwise brown. Females and juveniles have greenish brown bills with yellowish edges. Males have yellowish red irises, but females’ irises are brown.

The Shoveler is one of the 13 waterfowl species that may be hunted in Finland (out of the total of 26 bird species classified as game).

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

Follow us!

Identify species!

Sivun alkuun / Top of the page