The northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), sometimes known simply as the shoveler, is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America. These migrators winter in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central, and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.
This species is unmistakable in the northern hemisphere due to its large, spatulate, shovel-like bill. The breeding drake has an iridescent dark green head, white breast and chestnut belly and flanks. In flight, pale blue forewing feathers are revealed, separated from the green speculum by a white border. In early fall the male will have a white crescent on each side of the face. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake resembles the female. The female is a drab mottled brown like other dabblers, with plumage much like a female mallard, but easily distinguished by the long broad bill, which is gray tinged with orange on cutting edge and lower mandible. The female's forewing is gray.
This photograph was taken in Port Aransas, Texas. Although it appears to be a loving embrace, these two males are squabbling over a bit of territory and female affection. It appears that one of them is getting the upper hand!
Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata