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Photo by Tom Grey

Bird of the Month: Northern Shoveler

Become a bird expert! Every month we feature a different bird species of the San Francisco Bay Area. You can learn how to identify local birds and find out fun facts about our amazing feathered friends. Click on the pictures at the bottom of the page to learn about birds from previous months, and check back each month to see the latest species of interest!

Name: Northern Shoveler

Size: 1-1/2 feet

Wingspan: about 2-1/2 feet

Diet: Uses its shovel-shaped bill to strain crustaceans, plankton, and other food from surface of water. Eats some seeds.

Behavior: Male frightens away intruders by pumping his head up and down while honking loudly.

Habitat: Shallow open water in marshes, ponds; tidal bays in winter.

Fun Facts: Bill is longer than its head. Named for its wide, shovel-shaped bill

Migratory Route: Northern Shovelers migrate in small isolated flocks of 10-25 birds and travel both day and night. In North America, the majority of birds use two main migration flyways. One passage extends along the Mississippi and Missouri Valleys, through the central plains to the Gulf Coast and Central Mexico.The second migration corridor extends from Western Canada through the intermountain regions of California and down to the coast of Mexico. Shovelers travel as far south as Peru and as far north as Alaska. They are found in the San Francisco Bay area during the winter.