Northern Shoveler

Anas clypeata

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Shovelers resemble the only slightly larger mallards in their basic plumage, but can be identified by their characteristic spatulate bill - long and widened like a spoon at the tip. This male (drake) displays its basic plumage and resembles the female. The typical speculum is missing in the female, which is why it is possible to differentiate the sexes. The drake's breeding plumage is contrastingly coloured, with a shiny dark green head with yellow eyes, dark back and tail, whitish-pale breast and rufous flanks. During the breeding season, shovelers live on inland waters rich in vegetation, in moorland, marshes and wet grassland of the Holarctic. Shovelers are dabbllng ducks. They take their food from the water or the bed, but usually do not submerge completely, merely placing their heads underwater. The tail points upwards and remains visible. When hovering near the surface, the body continues to float on the water, the neck is often stretched. The classification of spoonbills has been revised in recent years. Ten species have been united in the spoonbill genus- Spatula. Synonyms are still in use. Besides the shoveler, the garganey and the exceedingly rare blue-winged teal breed in Germany. Outside the breeding season, shovelers can also be seen on the seashore. Shovelers sift through the water in search of plankton, crustaceans, various larvae, worms, tadpoles and spawn. By moving their bodies quickly, they stir up mud and the plankton it contains. With their broad bills, the ducks push the water from side to side through the bill to the outside to strain for food. The bill lamellae act like a sieve, skimming food from the water. In search of food, they swim in circles or lines. In Germany, the shoveler is classified as an endangered breeding bird, i.e. Red List Category 3.

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