Red Shoveler (Anas platalea)

Red Shoveler

Copyright Harold Stiver

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Anas platalea | [authority] Vieillot, 1816 | [UK] Red Shoveler | [FR] Canard spatule | [DE] Fuchs-Loffelente | [ES] Pato Cuchara (Arg, Bo, Cl) | [NL] Argentijnse Slobeend } [image copyright]Harold Stiver


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Anas platalea SA s


Anas is a genus of dabbling ducks. It includes mallards, wigeons, teals, pintails and shovelers in a number of subgenera. Some authorities prefer to elevate the subgenera to genus rank.[1] Indeed, as the moa-nalos are very close to this clade and may have evolved later than some of these lineages, it is rather the absence of a thorough review than lack of necessity that this genus is rather over-lumped. The phylogeny of this genus is one of the most confounded ones of all living birds. Research is hampered by the fact the radiation of the two major groups of Anas ? the teals and mallard groups ? took place in a very short time and fairly recently, roughly in the mid-late Pleistocene. Furthermore, hybridization may have long played a major role in Anas evolution, with within-subgenus hybrids regularly and between-subgenus hybrids not infrequently being fully fertile.[1] The relationships between species are much obscured by this fact, and mtDNA sequence data is of dubious value in resolving their relationships; on the other hand, nuclear DNA sequences evolve too slowly to resolve the phylogeny of the subgenus Anas for example. Some major clades can be discerned. For example, that the traditional subgenus Anas, the mallard group, forms a monophyletic (in the loose sense, i.e. non-holophyletic) group has never been seriously questioned by modern science and is as good as confirmed (but see below). On the other hand, the phylogeny of the teals is very confusing. For these reasons, the dabbling duck lineages more distantly related to mallard group (which includes the type species of Anas) than the wigeons should arguably be separated in their own genera. These would include the Baikal Teal, the Garganey, the spotted black-capped Punanetta group, and the shovelers and other blue-winged species. Whether the wigeons, which are very distinct in morphology and behavior, but much less so in mtDNA cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 sequences, should also be considered a distinct genus Mareca (including the Gadwall and Falcated Duck) is essentially the one remaining point of dispute as regards the question which taxa should remain in this genus and which ones should not.

Physical charateristics

The Red Shoveler is cinnamon in color with dark spots, and a green speculum. The head and neck are grayish. The bill is slightly longer than the head and spatulate, giving the species its common name. The female red shoveler has a buffy, brown-spotted head and underparts, a whitish throat, a dark brown back with lighter feather edgings, and a dark tail, with creamy white edges.

Listen to the sound of Red Shoveler

[audio: Shoveler.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Bernabe Lopez-Lanus

wingspan min.: 70 cm wingspan max.: 80 cm
size min.: 45 cm size max.: 56 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 50 days fledging max.: 60 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 8  


South America : South. The red shoveler occurs in southern South America, from southern Peru, Bolivia, south-eastern Brazil and Paraguay south to Tierra del Fuego


More often found in brackish waters than other dabbling ducks, the Red Shoveler is a denizen of large coastal lagoons, lakes, and estuaries. The Red Shoveler is fairly common in the proper habitat, and sometimes gathers in huge groups of 10,000 individuals or more.


The breeding season begins in September or October and the nest is built on the ground, being constructed from twigs, aquatic plants, reeds and dry grass. Five to eight eggs are laid which are incubated by the female. for about 25 days. Mostly the female takes care for the ducklings. The red shoveler is thought to first breed at about a year old.

Feeding habits

Like other dabbling ducks, it feeds from the surface of the water by head-dipping and upending, rarely making shallow dives in search of algae or plankton.

Video Red Shoveler


copyright: groenelantaarn


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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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.
The red shoveler is a relatively common and widespread species, and is not currently considered at risk of extinction. However, it may suffer to an extent from the degradation of its wetland habits, and is also hunted in some areas.
Red Shoveler status Least Concern


Populations in the southern part of its range are short-distance migrants, while more northerly populations are residents

Distribution map

Red Shoveler distribution range map

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