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Kuruwhengi (male) - Australasian shoveler - Anas rhynchotis | by Steve Attwood
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Kuruwhengi (male) - Australasian shoveler - Anas rhynchotis

Preening male photographed at travis Wetland, Christchurch.

Shovelers are specialist filter-feeding waterfowl with a large spoon-shaped or shovel-shaped bill that is almost twice as broad at its tip than at its base and which is the bird’s most conspicuous feature. Fine lamellae extend along most of the edge of the upper mandible and it is by pushing water through this lamellae curtain that small plankton and fine seeds are extracted.


Australasian shovelers are sexually dimorphic. The males are highly coloured most of the year, when they have a blue-grey head and neck with a distinctive white crescentic band at the base of its large spatulate black bill. The breast is a mottled brown and white after breeding but becomes progressively pure white as the nuptial moult proceeds during May. Its chestnut flank is offset by a large white patch at the tail base. The eye is yellow and the legs bright orange. Females are uniformly mottled light brown with dull brown bill and eye, and brown-orange legs. In flight Australasian shovelers have a distinctive profile with a ridiculously large bill, sharp pointed wings and very rapid wingbeats. The blue, white and green patches on the upper wing contrast with the white underwing -


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Taken on July 20, 2014