South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Northern Shoveler

Anas clypeata

Length: 17 to 20 inches Wingspan: 27 to 33 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant

Identification Keys MALES:  Distinctive large flattened bill, greenish black head, rusty sides and belly, white breast.  

Identification Keys FEMALES: Distinctive flattened bill, buffy overall, pale edges on slightly darker feathers on the back.

Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeataThe Northern Shoveler uses its unique large flattened bill to strain water for small aquatic plants and animals.  They are a common summer duck in the state. 

Habitat: Ponds, lakes, and marshes.  In the summer breeding season in the state, they nest in upland habitats, usually short grass areas with shallow water nearby. 

Diet: Omnivorous.  Summer eats mix of aquatic plants, grasses, insects, crustaceans, small fish, and seeds.  Winter diet is primarily seeds and plant material.

Behavior: Forages by swimming slowly with bill submerged just below the surface.  Food items are gathered by filtering water through the unique bill.  Unlike some other dabbling ducks, they rarely will feed on land.

Nesting: May through July.  The nest of a Northern Shoveler is a shallow depression on teh ground, lined with grasses and weeds with an inner layer of down.  The female usually lays 8 to 12 eggs, and she alone incubates them.  The young leave the nest soon after hatching, and find their own food.  The female tends to them and protects them until they learn to fly at about 8 weeks.

Song: Male took, took, took during mating.

Migration: Summers throughout much of western Canada and the western half of the United States, and locally around the Great Lakes.  Winters in the southern U.S. and along the coasts, as well as Mexico.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Northern Shoveler sightings

Similar Species: Mallard (females)

Conservation Status: Widespread and common.  The IUCN currently lists the Northern Shoveler as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Northern Shoveler

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Northern Shoveler"

3) Northern Shoveler

Photo Information: April 11th, 2010 -- Western Minnehaha County -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Northern Shoveler photos.


Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Range Map - Northern Shoveler
South Dakota Status: Common summer resident and migrant throughout most of the state.  Rare in winter.