Easily recognized by its shovel-shaped bill, the "Northern Shoveler" uses it as a tool to forage in the water while it swims, straining out tiny aquatic animals (crustaceans and insects). Because it often feeds in stagnant ponds, it is particularly susceptible to botulism.
Mottled brown with pale blue shoulder patches.
Breeding from Alaska and Central Canada east to the Great Lakes, the "Northern Shoveler" is found in a variety of wetland habitats.
Calls or song.
The most common male vocalization is, "took" and "paaay. . . took-took". During mating, female "Northern Shovelers", being chased, utter loud quacks followed by quieter "gaek" notes.
Population and distribution.
Like the closely related "Blue-winged Tea", the "Northern Shoveler" is among the first ducks to arrive in the fall for the southern half of the United States north to New Jersey and last to leave in the spring.
These ducks lay 8-12 pale buff or greenish eggs in a down-lined cup of grass, concealed in vegetation some distance from the water.