Monday, February 9, 2015

specialized shovels

Northern shoveler. Photos by Jason Dykes

The great thing about local duck ponds in winter is that you never know what you are apt to find.

I visited the Alcoa Duck Pond at Springbrook last week and saw mallards, coots and ring-billed gulls. But Jason and Charlotte Dykes visited over the weekend and found Northern Shovelers.

And a Northern Shoveler is one handsome duck, just take a look at that
 bill. As Sibley says, "strikingly long spatulate bill." 

"Their wide-flat bill is equipped with well-developed lamellae—small, comb-like structures on the edge of the bill that act like sieves, allowing the birds to skim crustaceans and plankton from the water's surface," notes wiki. So even though they can be found with other dabbling ducks like mallards, their specialized bills allow them to find food the others miss. That's their niche. 

Shovelers are widespread, nesting in the northern climes of North America, Europe and Asia and wintering farther south, in this case, Tennessee.

Thanks, Jason.

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