American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 12

SHOVELLER (Spatula clypeata). These ducks are very easily identified, not only by their unusual and attractive plumage, but because of the comparatively large size of their bills, which are much larger than those of any other species in proportion to the size of the bird. Shovellers, "Broadbills" or "Spoonbills," as they are perhaps more often termed, have a very wide distribution, being found in almost all parts of the Northern Hemisphere. In our country, they breed locally in the western and central states and throughout Canada.

     Shovellers frequent fresh- water ponds and lakes, especially where there are shallow bottoms well covered with vegetation. They feed by "tipping-up," where they can reach bottom, sifting the mud through the very prominent strainers on the sides of the bill, and eating the many insects and small mollusks so obtained.

     Their flight is quite swift and often a little erratic. They appear larger than they really are, for they have considerable spread and a large head and bill to give an appearance of size that does not exist in reality. Their flesh is quite desirable and they are often shot from blinds over decoys to which they come very readily and with little fear.


PINTAILS (Dafila acuta), " Sprig-tails " or "Spike-tails," as they are about equally often called, are quite unusual among ducks and easily identified because they have such long slender necks and pointed tails, although the latter feature is shared with the Old-squaw. This also is a cosmopolitan species and is found in both the Old World and the New. According to E. W. Nelson, who has had unusual opportunities of watching their actions during the mating seasons, they are very playful, diving into the water when in full flight and emerging also in flight, chasing one another about and occasionally mounting high in the air to descend on set wings. They nest in Canada and south to interior United States. In winter they are usually seen in small flocks of their own kind, and seldom with other species.