Duck o’ the Week

May 31, 2020 • 8:00 am

Once again evolutionary biologist John Avise enlightens us with a “guess the duck” post. Your job is to guess this species of duck found in North America. The reveal below the fold gives the answer, some duck facts, and a range map.

Voilà le canard:

Click “read more” to, well, read more. If you guessed this duck, you’re doing well:

ID: Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata

This is another of the “blue-winged” ducks (see the duck postings for the past two weeks) that have a large blue patch on the upper forewing, best visible in flight.  A large spatulate bill gives this species its name.  Especially in winter, Shovelers have a characteristic feeding behavior in which many individuals swim together in a tight circle (see photo), creating a water vortex that brings up detritus from the bottom of a shallow pond.  The birds then skim and filter the water through their shovel-like bills to extract edible goodies.

JAC: Here’s a video I found showing that circling behavior of shovelers. You’ll probably want to turn the sound off. Note that as they circle, they also swing their bills from side to side to stir up the water more.

And a range map from the Cornell site:


9 thoughts on “Duck o’ the Week

  1. Seeing these ducks reminded more pics of ducklings please. From what I can determine they’re nearly fills size.

    P.s. I vote NO on this new format!

    1. Sorry, I don’t know what format you’re talking about, but I can’t alter it for the time being.

      And I didn’t ask you to weigh in on the new format here. There’s another thread for that.

      1. Is “another thread” for commenting on the website” Site update #3?

        I ask because I need to know how to get back one of the search features that I can no longer access and I don’t want to ask my question on a post that won’t be reviewed by you. It was invaluable for my purposes and if it’s been removed I hope it can be restored.

        As for the duck — one look at that incongruous bill and I knew it was a shoveler, just not a Northern shoveler.

      1. “To scientists, it is Anas clypeata. To birders, it is a Northern Shoveller. But hunters have other names for them: Spoon, spoonie, spoonbill, pimp duck, Hollywood, spooner, spoontang, schpoon-a-licious, and, my favorite, “neighbor’s mallard.” When your non-duck hunting neighbors want some of your ducks, you give them a spoonie, which looks enough like a mallard to pass as one for the unobservant.”

        “Pimp duck”!?

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