Cape Shoveler, Anas smithii

The Cape Shoveler, (Anas smithii), is a species of dabbling duck native to South Africa. It is also commonly found further north in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, southern Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zambia. Its habitats are open wetlands such as grassland or marshes with some emergent vegetation. This bird is non-migratory, but does have some seasonal movements. The birds binomial (species) name commemorates zoologist Andrew Smith.

The Cape Shoveler is a long duck at roughly 20 inches. It has a large spatula-like bill. The adult is speckled grayish brown with dull orange legs. Like many other southern hemisphere ducks, the sexes are similar, but the male has a paler head than the female, a pale blue forewing separated from the green speculum by a white border, and yellow eyes. The female has a gray forewing.

The Cape Shoveler is a social bird when not in the breeding season. Its nest is a shallow depression in the ground, lined with plant material and down, and is usually located close to the water. This bird feeds by dabbling for plant food, often swinging its bill form side to side to strain food from the water. It will also take mollusks and insects in the nesting season.

The species is fairly quiet; however the male has a cawick call, and the female will give a mallard-like quack.

It is listed as a bird of Least Concern.

Image Caption: Cape Shoveler (Anas smithii) at Birds of Eden aviary, South Africa. Credit: Dick Daniels / Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)