Cape Shovler

© Nigel Dennis


Cape shoveler - Anas smithii

Cape Shoveler Appearance

As with most ducks found in South Africa, the sexes appear similar. The Cape shoveler has a long black spatulate bill that is distinctive. This duck has speckled grey to brown plumage and yellow legs. The legs turn orange during the breeding season. The male has a paler head than the female. The Cape shoveler has a light blue forewing, with a thin white border separating it from the green speculum. The male duck has yellow eyes and the female has brown eyes.


The Cape shoveler feeds on plant matter and aquatic invertebrates. Cape shoveler ducks are dabbling ducks, meaning they feed mainly on the surface, or tip head first into the water and very rarely dive.

Cape Shoveler Breeding

The Cape shoveler is monogamous and builds a nest close to the water, that is well hidden.

Cape Shoveler Behaviour

The Cape shoveler is a resident and non-migratory, but will make some local seasonal movements. The Cape shoveler is gregarious outside of the breeding season.



Cape Shoveler Distribution and Habitat

The Cape shoveler is endemic to Southern Africa and favours shallow saline pans and lagoons. This duck is found across the whole of South Africa, except in the most arid areas.