An Energetic Shoveler

Tuesday, January 22, 2019,

This is a series of photos I took of a male Northern Shoveler stretching his wings or maybe just shedding some excess water. Or both, I don’t really know.

What I can tell you is that these are one of the most specialized ducks that visit Long Island. I’m not sure that you can see it in these pics, but Norther Shovelers have a very unique bill that they use as a sieve to filter out seeds and aquatic invertebrates from the water. They usually go around with half of their head submerged as they sweep that extra wide bill from side to side in search of dinner. It really is an amazing adaptation.


A Most Unusual Duck

Sunday, November 13, 2016,


This rather odd looking duck with the ginormous bill is called a Northern Shoveler. It gets its name from that spectacular beak. That bill works as a sieve to filter plants, seeds, and small crustaceans from the water. That’s a pretty cool adaptation.

I took this pic yesterday during a Four Harbors Audubon walk at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket. It’s a great park. There are many species that overwinter here. Lots of ducks that we don’t get to see during the summer. You might want to check it out. JK

Northern Shovelers

December 2, 2012,

One of my responsibilities as photographer for the Four Harbors Audubon Society is coming up with a bird of the month for our website. One of my fellow board members suggested a winter duck so I went to Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket. This park is terrific for waterfowl. The two ponds here attract a wide variety of wintering birds. One can find all kinds of ducks here. For a photographer it can be like shooting fish in a barrel or ducks on a – well, you get my point.

These are pics of a pair of Northern Shovelers. Check out those bills. They’re bigger than the rest of their heads! It’s no wonder that these birds tend to keep their bills pointed down. The real wonder is how they manage to stay upright at all.

My friend Elaine says, “Gotta love that bill!” and my friend Luci once described it as a “wonderful adaptation”. Meanwhile, these are the ducks that had to sit by themselves in the high school cafeteria.

All kidding aside, those bills really are amazing. That over-sized shnozz  is used to sieve edible matter – be it zooplankton, crustaceans, or seeds from the water. This gives these guys a one-up on the other dabbling ducks that visit us, even if they do look like mutant Mallards. JK