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  • Writer's pictureS Santosh Kumar (sukubirder)

Braggart of Bharatpur: Northern Shoveler

Updated: Mar 27, 2023


The Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata) drakes are unmissable when spotted among the flocks of migratory birds that visit India. Their dark green head with yellow irises, and a strangely shaped beak make them a sight to behold. The same unusual beak is what makes a female Northern Shoveler also stand out; without it, its drab brown plumage would be almost indistinguishable from that of the female ducks of other species. The specially structured bills of Northern Shovelers are shovel shaped with a narrow base and a broad tip and have fine comblike structures at the edge. As this adaptation excels in straining aquatic invertebrates and seeds from the water, these ducks have become the masters of feeding in muddy shallow wetlands.

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