Family: (Anatidae) Ducks, Geese, and Swans
Preferred Habitat: Marshy ponds and lakes
Seasonal Occurrence: Abundant October through April
Notes: Aptly named, both male and female Shovelers have an extra-large, spatulate bill; the bill is longer than the head. They both also have a blue forewing patch that is prominent in flight and a green speculum. Males have a green head, yellow eyes, white breast, and chesnut brown flanks. Females and juveniles are mottled brown overall with an orange tinged bill.
Northern Shovelers eat much smaller organisms than most other waterfowl. They are likely to be found in the shallows of ponds and marshes where they use their spoonlike bill to strain aquatic crustaceans, insect larvae and seeds and small fish from the water. Northern Shovelers are rarely seen tipping up or diving and they seldom feed on land. Northern Shovelers are abundant in our area October-April. Good sites to observe them include the Katy Prairie, the San Bernard NWR, and Archbishop Fiorenza Park Phase 2.
-- Vicki Stittleburg