Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

Northern Shovelers Pinwheeling

A feathered phalanx!

The Northern Shoveler's oversized, spoon-shaped bill helps it stand out in even the most crowded pond. And while it doesn't actually use its bill to shovel, the Northern Shoveler skims tiny plants and animals off the water's surface and filters out the edibles with the help of tiny comb-like structures on its tongue. Dozens of shovelers feed side-by-side, a feathered phalanx paddling and sweeping the surface, all the while rotating in a circular pattern across the pond. Be sure to watch the video!

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Northern Shovelers Pinwheeling

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
 [Loud quacking of ducks, splashing sounds]
 Autumn brings back many kinds of ducks to our lakes and ponds, but few are as instantly recognizable as the duck aptly named Northern Shoveler. The Northern Shoveler’s oversized, spoon-shaped bill helps it stand out in even the most crowded pond. [Northern Shoveler vocalizations] And while it doesn’t actually use its bill to shovel, the Northern Shoveler’s extra-large bill has a very special function.
 Many ducks tip downward to feed, their heads submerged, their tails pointing to the sky. The shoveler, though, skims tiny plants and animals off the water’s surface. Holding its bill flat at the surface and moving its head side to side, the shoveler pulls water in at the tip of its bill, then filters out the edibles with the help of tiny comb-like structures on its tongue. [Northern Shoveler vocalizations]
 And shovelers are social feeders.  Picture dozens of shovelers feeding side-by-side as one: a feathered phalanx paddling and sweeping the surface, all the while rotating in a circular pattern across the pond. A pin-wheeling mass of feathers and bills, in shades of emerald-green, brown, and white.
 We have videos of this activity that will make you almost dizzy! Enjoy feeding your curiosity when you come to our website, birdnote.org.
###

Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Mallards recorded by A. A. Allen.  Northern Shoveler calls recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org     October 2012     Narrator: Frank Corrado

ID# NSHO-01-2008-10-22-KPLU    NSHO-01-FCr

Sights & Sounds

Related topics:

Home
Shows
Galleries
More