Males have an
iridescent green head and neck, white chest and breast, and chestnut belly and sides. They
have a white stripe extending from the breast along the margin of the gray-brown back, and
white flank spots. The wings have a gray-blue shoulder patch separated from a brilliant
green speculum by a tapered white stripe. Females have a light brownish head with a
blackish crown, and a brownish speckled body. The upper wing coverts are grayish-blue, the
greater secondary coverts are tipped with white, and the secondaries are brown with a
slight greenish sheen. Perhaps the most visible diagnostic characteristic of the northern
shoveler is its large, spoonshaped bill, which widens towards the tip and creates a shape
unique among waterfowl.
M 19?", F 19"
M 1.5 lbs., F 1.4 lbs.
fly from the prairie pothole region through the Pacific or Central Flyway, with major
stopover areas in the Great Salt Lake, Malheur Basin, and Carson Sink. They winter in
California, coastal Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico, and the north and central highlands of
Mexico. Wintering habitat includes fresh and brackish coastal marshes, and still-water
ponds. Saltwater wetlands are generally avoided.
breed in the parklands, short- and mixed- grass prairies of Canada, and the grasslands of
northcentral US. The prefer shallow marshes that are mud-bottomed and rich in invertebrate
life. Nest sites are generally located in grassy areas without any woody cover and away
from open water.