Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Shoveler's Bill

Male Shoveler Duck, Anas clypeata
The Shoveler Duck, Anas clypeata, is a distinctive winter visitor to Ireland, migrating here from France, northern Europe, the Baltic, Russia and even a small population from Iceland (1), with some all-year residents. Both males and females are similar in colouring to its relative the Mallard (A. platyrhynchos), the females being a similar brown colour and the males having a green head and chestnut breast (but with blue forewings) (2), yet are quite different in one dramatic feature: their bill. The bill of the Shoveler is a large, spatulate tool it uses to filter feed aquatic plants and invertebrates (3). A. clypeata moves its bill from side to side as it passes through the water, filtering it as it goes.
Female Shoveler Duck, Anas clypeata, feeding
  1. Arzel et al., 2006 Journal of Ornithology Volume 147 pp. 167-184
  2. Hayman and Hume, 2002 The Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe
  3. Kooloos et al. 1989 Zoomorphology Volume 108 pp. 269-290

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