Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman

Australian shoveler

Spatula rhynchotis (Anas rhynchotis)

Australische slobeend / Australische Löffelente / Souchet d'Australie

 

Spatula rhynchotis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Anas.

 

The Australian shoveler is a species of dabbling duck. It ranges from 46–53 cm. It lives in heavily vegetated swamps. In Australia it is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974. They occur in southwestern and southeastern AustraliaTasmania, and New Zealand.

 

It was previously categorised as two subspecies:

  • S. rhynchotis rhynchotis Australian shoveler, the nominate race, occurs in southwestern and southeastern Australia and Tasmania.
  • S. rhynchotis variegata New Zealand shoveler, occurs in New Zealand.

Courtship in New Zealand starts around August which involves vocalisations from the drake (male) accompanied with head-bobbing whilst swimming toward the duck (female). The most heard vocalisations are from the drakes in the form of a "Sock, sock-sock, sock, sock-sock". Often several drakes will peruse an already paired duck: Generally the mated males are aggressive & will not tolerate this behavior from the bachelors, & fighting may ensue. Courtship flights are common in the morning & evenings mostly, where the duck is followed in a short rapid flight by one or more (usually two) drakes. This tests the speed & agility of the drakes. The duck may be biased in picking the 'winner' in these tests however, especially if she has paired with one of the competitors. She will even sometimes excrete mid-flight on a perusing male if he is especially not to her fancy. There is a clear & unexplained sex ratio difference with a lot more males to females. This difference is not present in broods of ducklings however. Males with a lot of white breast feathers are not usually paired. These white feathers are often a sign of an older shoveler as first year males almost never have them. Mating will occur as early as August, though nesting rarely happens until at least October.

 

This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (IUCN, 2012).

 

More information: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22680243/0

 

Taxonomy

Usually placed in Anas like most dabbling ducks, it stands well apart from such species as the mallard and together with the shovelers and their relatives forms a "blue-winged" group that may warrant separation as genus Spatula (del Hoyo and Collar 2014).

 

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Above: adult pair of Australian shovelers (drake left).

 

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Above: adult drake Australian shoveler

 

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Above: adult drake Australian shoveler

 

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Above: adult drake Australian shoveler

 

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Above: adult drake Australian shoveler (in moulting plumage).

 

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Above: two females and one drake Australian shoveler

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