Saturday, March 1, 2014

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler
Northern Shoveler. Lindo Lake, California. February 9, 2014. Greg Gillson.
Northern Shovelers have similar colors to the widespread and familiar Mallard--the drakes with green heads, and rust and white on the body. One difference is that the Mallard has a chestnut breast and pale gray sides, opposite of the Northern Shoveler's white chest and chestnut sides.

Another major difference is the yellow bill of the drake Mallard compared to the black bill of the drake Northern Shoveler. Hunters observing the wide, flat bill call this duck a "spoonbill," but since it eats crustaceans and soft plant material from muddy pond bottoms, they evidently taste like mud, and they aren't sought after for table fare like Mallards.