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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shovelers Not for Snow

These shovelers are ducks, more correctly called northern shovelers.

A couple of weeks ago, we visited nearby Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. This pair was feeding (nearly) non-stop during the 20 minutes we watched them. 

Northern shovelers feed by dabbling and sifting in shallow water and prefer freshwater lakes, marshes and wetlands with muddy edges.  


The northern shoveler is sometimes called the spoonbill. It has the largest bill of any duck in North America. This bill is the most prominent feature; it is also longer than its head.

As in most species, the male is the more colorful with a black head that shows iridescent green in bright light. The male has a black bill, white breast, and its abdomen and flanks are chestnut. The black rump may also show iridescent green. 


Females are mottled brown with darker upper parts and a grayish-orange bill. Both genders have yellow eyes, orange legs and feet, and a powder blue wing patch visible when flying. This pair was more interested in foraging than flying.

Northern shovelers are monogamous, mating after a courtship display that includes various calls, wing flapping and head dipping. 

This duck's summer range extends from Alaska through western and central Canada south to the mountain regions of Colorado and northern New Mexico, and as far east as the St. Lawrence River and Massachusetts Bay. Like some humans, they escape winter temps and migrate to the Pacific coast, southern U.S., the Caribbean and Mexico.

10 comments:

Sandra said...

I laughed out loud at the second collage which should be titled "butts Up".. i do love a wild life refuge.

Out on the prairie said...

A favorite to watch, we get a few all summer here.The colors are great.

Montanagirl said...

Beautiful images! We get the Shovelers here too. I love photographing them!

DeniseinVA said...

Shovelers are so interesting to look at. You got some great photos here.

William Kendall said...

We don't get them here, but the ducks we do have do the same thing, hindquarters sticking up while they're scrounging in the water for food.

Lois Evensen said...

Very pretty birds - from top to bottom. ;)

A Quiet Corner said...

Love that butt to the sky demeanor!!!...:)JP

Doris said...

Neat! You captured some beautiful photos!

Elaine said...

Lovely set of photos! We get them here in the summer and I always enjoy watching them.

Daisy said...

Great pictures! I bet they were fun to watch.

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