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Red Shoveler
Anas platalea

Red Shoveler
Pato Cuchara
Anas platalea
Length: 510mm. Sexes unlike. Male: bill black; iris white; forehead, crown and nape black with feathers edged pale buff; chin and throat white; remainder of head and neck ochraceous buff or pale pink to whitish buff finely speckled blackish brown; breast, abdomen and flanks dark reddish chestnut, slightly paler or ochraceous on upper breast and flanks, heavily mottled with small blackish spots throughout; sides of rump white; under tail coverts black; upper back and upper scapulars cinnamon ochraceous splotched with small blackish spots; lower scapulars have long and pointed bluish black feathers glossed green, and white bands or stripes running along the rachis; lower back, centre of rump and uppertail coverts blackish with greenish sheen; long central rectrices dark brown with whitish edges; side rectrices whitish; lesser and median wing coverts pale blue; greater wing coverts dark brown at the base and the outer half white, the base not visible; secondaries form the speculum, which is a gleaming metallic green; primaries dark brown; axillaries white;
legs orange-yellow. Female: bill greenish grey blotched dark brown; iris dark brown; head and neck cinnamon buff heavily patterned with fine blackish brown stripes, more profuse and broad on forehead; crown, nape, chin and throat whitish; breast, abdomen, flanks and under tail coverts cinnamon buff blotched dark brown; back, rump and uppertail coverts dark brown with feathers edged with pale cinnamon buff; upper scapulars as back; lower scapulars dark brown with whitish band running along rachis; central rectrices dark brown edged with whitish buff; side rectrices pale brown with broader whitish edges; lesser and median under wing coverts greyish pale blue; greater coverts show brown on forewing washed with pale blue and the hind portion is white; secondaries form speculum, which is duller greenish brown; primaries dark brown; axillaries white; legs olive grey. The female is smaller than the male, standing at 460mm. Juvenile: immature of both sexes are similar to female but the wings in males are brighter coloured. Similar species: the Red Shoveler may be mistaken at a distance for Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera), however the male can be distinguished by the bill, colour of head, tail and white spot on either side of rump; whereas the female mainly by its much longer bill in the shape of a spoon. Habitat and behaviour: very common, the Red Shoveler occurs in freshwater or saline shallow ponds and other water bodies with abundant marshy vegetation, both emergent and non-emergent. This species is found in pairs or groups of 50 or more individuals. It feeds primarily on plants but completes its diet with diminutive invertebrates; to feed it submerges head or half the body; quite tame; almost always associated with conspecific populations; quick flight, springing directly up; usually keeps neck folded in and bill oblique; mostly silent, utters a weak and feeble sound. The nest is built on the ground among vegetation near the water, sometimes at a distance from water; it is placed in a hollow on ground, lined with grass and covered with down; up to ten cream-coloured eggs are laid.
Range: in Patagonia, the Red Shoveler is more common in spring and summer; fairly large flocks migrate to the South numbering up to three hundred or even more individuals, and during stopovers they rest in quiet coastal waters in the sea, although a few may be seen in certain locations throughout the year.
Widely distributed from Río Negro and Neuquén to Tierra del Fuego; it is an occasional visitor to Islas Malvinas; but south of Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Santa Fe it occurs year round, although part of the population migrates further north.
Illustrated Handbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs Family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
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Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña