Anas clypeata | Northern Shoveler | Spadalach



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

According to the last IUCN Red List assessment in 2019, the Shoveler is a species of ‘Least Concern’ on a global scale. However, a decreasing global population trend was noted. 

Species Biology


The Shoveler is a large species of duck with a characteristic large, almost spatula-shaped bill. This is where the name stems from.

The male has a dark greenish head with a white breast, brown-ginger flanks and a baby blue upper forewing.

The female is less grandiose, appearing a mottled brown colour all over, with none of the bright colours expressed by the male.

The Shoveler stands at a length of 44-52 cm and has a wingspan of 70-84 cm. Weight can range from 400-1,000 grams. 


The Shoveler is an omnivorous species that feeds on animal material such as small insects, zooplankton, crustaceans, molluscs and various larval species as well as plant material such as seeds.

It utilises its broad bill to filter any food items from the water with a sideways sweeping motion.


Suitable feeding habitat includes ephemeral wetlands such as turloghs and callows.

It is a ground nesting species that nests within vegetation along the water’s edge.

Suitable wintering habitat includes coastal estuaries, callows, inland lakes and lagoons.


During breeding, this species lays a clutch of 9-11 eggs, each weighing approximately 40 grams, and incubates these eggs for a period of 22-23 days.

The young fledge after 40-45 days.

A typical wild Shoveler will have a life expectancy of around three years, with breeding occurring after one year. 


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

The Shoveler is a resident breeding species in Ireland but numbers are bolstered during winter months when the country hosts visitors from northern Europe, western Russia and France.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

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