Australasian Shoveler

Did you know?

The Australasian Shoveler is the only Australian duck with a noisy whirring flight.

Usually silent but occasionally from male a soft 'toot toot' and low grunting; female a soft, husky 'quack' and chattering in flight.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
August to December, on coast. Year round, with rainfall, in arid zones
Clutch Size: 
9 to 11 eggs
25 days
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Australasian Shoveler is a low-floating, dark headed duck, with a low sloping forehead blending to a heavy, square-cut, shovel-tipped bill. The male in breeding plumage has a deep grey-blue head with a vertical white crescent between the bright-yellow eye and the bill The back and rump are black, and the shoulder and wing coverts are blue-grey with several white bars. The underparts are chestnut, with white patches to the rear of the flanks. Outside the breeding season, the males are much duller. Females have mottled brown upperparts, chestnut underparts, and a dark brown eye. This species is also known as Spoonbill Duck, Shovelbill, Blue-winged Shoveler and Stinker.

Similar species: 

The breeding plumage of the Australasian Shoveler is similar to the Chestnut Teal, A. castanea, though this is a much smaller bird, with a green, rather than blue, head and a less massive bill. When dabbling, (feeding with head under the water) the Shoveler's orange legs are distinctive.

Where does it live?

In Western Australia the Australasian Shoveler can be found from the south up to the North West Cape. In eastern Australia it can be found from as far south as Tasmania to Cairns in the north. It is also found in New Zealand.


The Australasian Shoveler is found in all kinds of wetlands, preferring large undisturbed heavily vegetated freshwater swamps. It is also found on open waters and occasionally along the coast.

Seasonal movements: 

In Australia these ducks are dispersive, but little is known about their movements. In New Zealand they are highly mobile.

What does it do?

The Australasian Shoveler is a filter feeder, using special lamellae (grooves) along the edges of the bill to filter insects, crustaceans and a variety of plants from the water. This specialised bill limits the Shoveler's foraging range to aquatic habitats on open water or soft mud in fertile wetlands.


The Australasian Shoveler breeds at almost any time in the arid parts of the continent, synchronised with flooding rains. Nests are built on the ground in dense vegetation, sometimes on a stump or hollow of a tree that is standing in water. The female alone incubates the eggs and broods the young.

Living with us

Changes to the natural flow and floods of rivers may interrupt breeding of the Australasian Shoveler.

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