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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Cape Shoveler

Afrikaans name: Kaapse Slopeend

Cape Shoveler

Cape Shoveler

Photo © Steven Herbert

Anas smithii

Is it a Cape Shoveler or a Cape Shoveller? It has had a slight change in the spelling of its name as it used to be the Cape Shoveller. This species is found in many parts of South Africa as well as our northern neighbours.

The distinguishing feature of this duck is the shovel (spatula) shaped bill. They reach a length of just over 50 cm. They plumage is generally brownish with a scalloped appearance. Their legs are orange. Male and female are fairly similar, but the female has a darker head and eye. There are also differences in the colouration of the wings when in flight.

The Cape Shoveler is found in wetlands, marshes and dams. It prefers marshy areas. Their main food is plant material, but they do eat some insects during the breeding season. The female builds a nest on the ground a week or so before she lays her eggs. Up to 13 eggs have been recorded in a clutch. Incubation of the eggs is solely the job of the female. She takes time off to go and feed once or twice a day. The female feeds the chicks while the duty of the male is deterring predators.


References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 169

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Year Published: - Page: 37

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 12

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 42

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 91

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 92

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 78

List of South African Birds

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