2276. Spatula clypeata

(2276) Spatula clypeata.

The Shoveller.

Anas clypeata Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 124 (1758) (South Sweden). Spatula clypeata. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 452.

Vernacular names. Tidari, Punana, Tokarwalla, Ghirah (Hind.); Panta-mukhi (Beng.) ; Dho-bahar, Sarkar , Khikheria Sankar (Nepal); Alipat, Gino, Langho (Sind); Khantiya-hans, Nak-dungara (Assam).

Description. - Male. "Whole head and neck glossy green, showing a purple tinge in certain lights, especially on the upper parts ; lower neck, upper breast, outer scapulars and outer portions of back mauve-white; a narrow centre patch on the neck brown, the feathers edged paler, in some broadly white; back brown, the feathers pale-edged; rump and upper tail-coverts black, glossed with peacock-green and blue, the former tint predominating; rectrices brown, edged white, the white increasing in breadth on the outer feathers; wing-coverts a beautiful blue-grey, some of those next the inner secondaries glossed deep Prussian blue on the terminal quarter of the outer web ; greater coverts more brown, forming a wing-bar next the speculum; one of the outer scapulars brilliant grey-blue; others black, glossed with green and with white centres; inner secondaries deep brown-black, glossed with green turning bluish at the tips; primaries dark brown; speculum a brilliant metallic green; lower breast, flanks and abdomen a rich rufous-chestnut, some of the feathers on the posterior and inferior flanks lighter and vermiculated with brown; sometimes a few black spots on the breast; thighs dull rufous-chestnut; under tail-coverts black glossed with blue-green ; flanks next the tail-coverts white.

Colours of soft parts. Iris yellow, orange or orange-red; brown or orange-brown in the female; bill black, in breeding-season greyish-black or plumbeous-black; the female has the bill more brown, often tinged with orange; legs and feet orange, orange-brown or red.

Measurements. Wing, 230 to 262 mm., 217 (Witherby) to 238 mm.; tail 72 to 86 mm.; tarsus about 32 to 38 mm.; culmen, 61 to 71 mm., 56 to 64 mm.

Weight, 1 lb.3 oz. to 1 lb. 14 oz., 1 to 1 1/2 lbs.

Female. The whole upper plumage brown, each feather edged with pale rufous or dingy rufous-white; wing-coverts grey ; quills brown with faint indications of the speculum and the white terminal bar well defined ; lower parts dull brownish-buff, varying a good deal in depth and tint; the dark bases of the feathers show through as dark crescentic bands on the breast, flanks and sides but hardly, if at all, on the abdomen ; chin unspotted ; neck and sides of head speckled with dark brown ; most ducks have a well-defined white loreal spot speckled with brown.

Young males resemble the female but have the speculum more defined and the grey coverts brighter and clearer in colour: the legs and feet are generally flesh-coloured and the bill brown.

Male in eclipse plumage. Like the female but with the adult male wing coloration; the rump and upper tail-coverts remain as in breeding-plumage ; the white of the breast generally shows a certain amount of dark brown crescentic barring and the black under tail-coverts are mottled with chestnut and white.

Nestling in down. Upper parts dark brown, the filaments tipped with dull cinnamon; pale patches, ill defined or obsolete, on the sides of the body and rump ; lower parts greyish or creamy-white, the chin and throat darker and more cinnamon; a dark streak through the eye.

Distribution. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, breeding North to 68°. In Winter it occurs over most of Northern Africa and has once been recorded from Cape Town. In Asia it wanders South into all the islands of Austro-Malaysia and the Philippines etc. and the Hawaian islands. In India and Ceylon it occurs everywhere where there is water and in Burma over the whole of the North and Centre hut it has not been recorded from Tenasserim, though it must visit that district.

Nidification. The Shoveller does not breed within our limits, though Layard once found it doing so in Ceylon in March, when he saw a female with twelve young, capturing most of the latter. In Europe it breeds from the end of April to early June, making the duck's usual nest of grass and rushes in swampy meadows, thin flags round marshes or, less often, in scrub and bush cover near lakes. Occasionally the nest is placed in reed-beds and one nest was found quite exposed on a bare mud-flat in a marsh. The eggs number from seven or eight to sixteen and are in colour pale stone or buff, rarely with a greenish tinge. One hundred eggs average 52.2 x 87.0 mm.: maxima 56.5 X 38.0 and 54.0 x 39.0 mm.; minima 48.0 x 37.0 and 50.5 x 34.5 mm.

Habits. The Shoveller is a rather late arrival in India, not appearing in any numbers until about the end of October. It leaves late also, many birds staying until well on in April. It is an entirely freshwater bird but is not particular as to its cleanliness and it may be found in insanitary village ponds and ditches as well as in the largest swamps and lakes. It requires shallow water to feed in and therefore keeps to the edges of the larger pieces of water where there is floating vegetation. Here it finds ample small Crustacea, larvae spawn, frogs, mud-fish etc. as well as a certain amount of vegetable food, " dibbling" on the surface or prodding in the mud. It occasionally feeds under water, tail in air, like the Mallard but far more often swims slowly about with the head only immersed, straining through its long thin lamallae the food for which it is hunting. It is, for a duck, not much of a swimmer and hardly ever dives. On the wing it is strong and speedy but when killed it is generally unfit to eat, coarse and malodorous, so that sportsmen leave it alone. Its voice is like that of the Mallard but lower and softer and it has a low, quick chuckling quack like that of the Gad wall.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.6 1929.
Title in Book: 
2276. Spatula clypeata
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Northern Shoveler
Anas clypeata
Vol. 6
Term name: 

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