©Gary Cox


©Guy Edwardes/2020VISION


Scientific name: Anas clypeata
Living up to its name, the shoveler has a large and distinctive shovel-like bill which it uses to feed at the surface of the water. It breeds in small numbers in the UK, but is widespread in winter.

Species information


Length: 47-53cm
Wingspan: 77cm
Weight: 630g
Average lifespan: 3 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


A common dabbling duck, particularly during the winter, shovelers feed by sweeping their large, flat bills back and forth through the water, filtering out small invertebrates, plant seeds and other plant matter.

How to identify

The shoveler lives up to its name - it can be distinguished by its long, broad 'shovel' of a bill. The male has a dark green head, white breast and orangey-brown sides during the breeding season. Females are mottled brown, but have a pale blue forewing.


Nests in southern and eastern England and in Scotland. More common in the winter, when it is quite widespread throughout the country.

Did you know?

As with many duck species, male (or 'drake') shovelers moult their colourful feathers when the breeding season is over, and go into 'eclipse' plumage - a mottled brown, just like the female (or 'hen'). This helps to camouflage them from predators.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland and coastal nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.