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Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Taxonomic note
Spatula clypeata (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Anas.

Anas clypeata Linnaeus, 1758

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.5,500,000-6,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population sizes have been estimated at c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China, c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Korea and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.10,000 wintering individuals in Japan (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant increase over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007).

Behaviour This species is highly migratory although it may be present all year round in parts of Europe (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It arrives on the breeding grounds from March where it breeds in solitary pairs or loose groups in the northern spring (chiefly from mid-April to June) (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992). Males undergo a post-breeding moult migration from early-May to early-June (females moulting one month later) during which they are flightless for 3-4 weeks (Scott and Rose 1996). The autumn migration chiefly occurs between September and October (western Europe), during which the species is likely to travel on a broad front (e.g. across Arabia and into Africa) (Scott and Rose 1996). The species is usually found in pairs or small parties (Johnsgard 1978, Madge and Burn 1988) although it often congregates when feeding (Kear 2005b) (flocks of 20 or 30 to several hundred individuals occur in favoured areas in Africa [Brown et al. 1982] and large concentrations form at stop-over sites on migration) (Madge and Burn 1988). The species forages diurnally and roosts communally at night (Brown et al. 1982). Habitat It inhabits permanent shallow freshwater wetlands from sea level up to 2,900 m (Ethiopia) (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998), preferred sites being those surrounded by dense stands of reeds or other emergent vegetation whilst being free of overhanging trees or fringing forest (Snow and Perrins 1998). Copious submerged aquatic vegetation sheltering abundant planktonic invertebrates is a valuable habitat characteristic (Johnsgard 1978). Suitable habitats include well-vegetated lakes and marshes and with muddy shores and substrates in open country (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005b) (e.g. grasslands) (Johnsgard 1978, Brown et al. 1982), as well as oxbow lakes, channels and swamps (former U.S.S.R.) (Flint et al. 1984). It also frequents artificial waters bordered by lush grassland (Snow and Perrins 1998) such as sewage farms, rice-fields (Kear 2005b) and fish ponds (Musil 2006). In the winter it can be found on coastal brackish lagoons (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005b), tidal muflats (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005b), estuaries (Madge and Burn 1988), coastal shorelines, fresh and brackish estuarine marshes (Johnsgard 1978), inland seas and brackish or saline inland waters (Snow and Perrins 1998), occasionally occurring (briefly) on marine waters during migration (Madge and Burn 1988, Snow and Perrins 1998) (although it generally avoids very saline habitats) (Johnsgard 1978). Diet Its diet consists of small aquatic invertebrates such as adult and larval insects (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. caddisfly larvae, damselfly and dragonfly nymphs, adult beetles, bugs and flies [Johnsgard 1978, Brown et al. 1982]), molluscs (del Hoyo et al. 1992), planktonic crustaceans (Snow and Perrins 1998), the seeds of emergent and aquatic plants (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005b) (e.g. bulrushes and waterweeds) (Johnsgard 1978), annelids, amphibian spawn, tadpoles, spiders, fish and the vegetative parts of aquatic plants (e.g. duckweeds) (Johnsgard 1978, Brown et al. 1982). Breeding site The nest is a scrape or depression (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005b) on the ground in tall grass, among hummocks, in the open (Flint et al. 1984) or (rarely) in bulrush marshes (Kear 2005b). Usually the species nests close to water but if grass cover is unavailable in the wetland site it may also nest far away from water under bushes, in hayfields or in meadows (Flint et al. 1984, Kear 2005b). Although it is not a colonial species, several pairs may nest in close proximity (Madge and Burn 1988). Management information A study in the Czech Republic found that fish ponds with a fish stock density of less than 400 kg/ha, water transparency of more than 50 cm, mixed fish stocks (e.g. tench and pike or perch) rather than monospecific stocks (e.g. of carp), and systems that include ponds with fish fry (to provide areas with low fish competition and high invertebrate availability) are more successful in supporting breeding pairs of this species (Musil 2006). The cyclical removal of adult fish from an artificial waterbody (gravel pit) in the UK attracted nesting pairs to the area by causing an increase in invertebrate food availability and an increase in the growth of submerged aquatic macrophytes (Giles 1994). The removed fish (dead or alive) were sold to generate funds (Giles 1994).

The species is threatened by habitat loss in Britain and Ireland (Kear 2005b), is occasionally killed by collisions with power transmission lines (Malcolm 1982), and suffers from nest predation by American mink Neovison vison (Opermanis et al. 2001, Nordstrom et al. 2002, Bartoszewicz and Zalewski 2003). It is susceptible to avian influenza (Melville and Shortridge 2006, Gaidet et al. 2007) and avian botulism (Forrester et al. 1980) so may be threatened by future outbreaks of these diseases. The species may suffer from reproductive impairment as a result of selenium (Se) accumulation in liver tissues (selenium contained in sub-surface agricultural drain-water used for wetland management in California led to bioaccumulation of the element in the food chain) (Paveglio et al. 1997). The species suffers mortality as a result of lead shot ingestion (Camargue, France and Spain [Mateo et al. 1998, Mondain-Monval et al. 2002]). Utilisation The species is a favoured quarry species throughout most of the world, but is rarely taken in large numbers (Kear 2005b). It is hunted for sport in North America (Baldassarre and Bolen 1994), Denmark (Bregnballe et al. 2006) and the Po delta, Italy (Sorrenti et al. 2006), and is hunted commercially and recreationally in Iran (Balmaki and Barati 2006). The eggs of this species used to be (and possibly still are) harvested in Iceland (Gudmundsson 1979).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Baldassarre, G. A.; Bolen, E. G. 1994. Waterfowl ecology and management. John Wiley, New York.

Balmaki, B.; Barati, A. 2006. Harvesting status of migratory waterfowl in northern Iran: a case study from Gilan Province. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 868-869. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Bartoszewicz, M.; Zalewski, A. 2003. American mink, Mustela vison diet and predation on waterfowl in the Slonsk Reserve, western Poland. Folia Zoologica 52(3): 225-238.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Bregnballe, T.; Noer, H.; Christensen, T. K.; Clausen, P.; Asferg, T.; Fox, A. D.; Delany, S. 2006. Sustainable hunting of migratory waterbirds: the Danish approach. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 854-860. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Brown, L. H.; Urban, E. K.; Newman, K. 1982. The birds of Africa vol I. Academic Press, London.

Butler, C. J. 2003. The disproportionate effect of global warming on the arrival dates of short-distance migratory birds in North America. Ibis 145: 484-495.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Flint, V. E.; Boehme, R. L.; Kostin, Y. V.; Kuznetsov, A. A. 1984. A field guide to birds of the USSR. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Forrester, D. J.; Wenner, K. C.; White, F. H.; Greiner, E. C.; Marion, W. R.; Thul, J. E.; Berkhoff, G. A. 1980. An epizootic of avian botulism in a phosphate mine settling pond in northern Florida. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 16(3): 323-327.

Gaidet, N.; Dodman, T.; Caron, A.; Balança, G.; Desvaux, S.; Goutard, F.; Cattoli, G.; Lamarque, F.; Hagemeijer, W.; Monicat, F. 2007. Avian Influenza Viruses in Water Birds, Africa. Emerging Infectious Diseases 13(4): 626-629.

Giles, N. 1994. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) habitat use and brood survival increases after fish removal from gravel pit lakes. Hydrobiologia 279/280: 387-392.

Gudmundsson, F. 1979. The past status and exploitation of the Myvatn waterfowl populations. Oikos 32((1-2)): 232-249.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1978. Ducks, geese and swans of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London.

Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, geese and swans volume 2: species accounts (Cairina to Mergus). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Madge, S.; Burn, H. 1988. Wildfowl. Christopher Helm, London.

Malcolm, J. M. 1982. Bird collisions with a power transmission line and their relation to botulism at a Montana USA wetland. Wildlife Society Bulletin 10(4): 297-304.

Mateo, R.; Belliure, J.; Dolz, J. C.; Aguilar-Serrano, J. M.; Guitart, R. . 1998. High prevalences of lead poisoning in wintering waterfowl in Spain. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 35: 342-347.

Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Mondain-Monval, J. Y.; Desnouhes, L.; Taris, J. P. 2002. Lead shot ingestion in waterbirds in the Camargue, (France). Game and Wildlife Science 19(3): 237-246.

Murphy-Klassen, H. M.; Underwood, T. J.; Sealy, S. G.; Czyrny, A. A. 2005. Long-term trends in spring arrival dates of migrant birds at Delta Marsh, Manitoba, in relation to climate change. The Auk 122: 1130-1148.

Musil, P. 2006. A review of the effects of intensive fish production on waterbird breeding populations. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 520-521. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Nordström, M.; Högmander, J.; Nummelin, J.; Laine, J.; Laanetu, N.; Korpimäki, E. 2002. Variable responses of waterfowl breeding populations to long-term removal of introduced American mink. Ecography 25: 385-394.

Opermanis, O.; Mednis, A.; Bauga, I. 2001. Duck nests and predators: interaction, specialisation and possible management. Wildlife Biology 7(2): 87-96.

Paveglio, F. L.; Kilbride, K. M.; Bunck, C. M. 1997. Selenium in aquatic birds from central California. Journal of Wildlife Management 61(3): 832-839.

Scott, D. A.; Rose, P. M. 1996. Atlas of Anatidae populations in Africa and western Eurasia. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Sorrenti, M.; Carnacina, L.; Radice, D.; Costato, A. 2006. Duck harvest in the Po delta, Italy. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 864-865. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Vahatalo, A. V.; Rainio, K.; Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E. 2004. Spring arrival of birds depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 210-216.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Spatula clypeata. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 20,800,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment