Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Northern Shoveler

I was still on my second loop around the Black Point Drive, trying to make my way to the Cruickshank Trail, but I was continually side tracked. I wasn't necessarily in a hurry, but I didn't know how long it was going to take me to hike five miles, and the afternoon was getting on. But the darned birds kept catching my eye, closer than they had been the first time 'round, and I was compelled to stop and shoot.

Not that I'm complaining.

I had seen a pair of Northern shovelers earlier in the day but they were back lit and the shots weren't that great. This time my luck was better, and they were in full sun.

A Glossy ibis made for a good backdrop.

There were two pair of shovelers, but I could not seem to get them all in the frame at once.

I am absolutely amazed by bird's beaks. Tailored specifically for gathering whatever their most common food source is, they are a marvel of evolution. The shoveler is a great example of that. Longer than the bird's head and wider at the tip, the bill has thin projections on the sides to filter bits of food out of the water by moving their heads side to side. This photo is a bit fuzzy but shows their bills well. Like the rack on a bull elk, it seems like the bird should tip forward from the weight of it.

Disproportionate bill aside, they are handsome birds.

I especially like the male's bright yellow eye.

No longer do I look at every duck I see and think, "Oh, it's just a mallard...."

1 comment:

  1. I adore shovelers too...their bills are amazing, and I love to see their colorful little legs trailing behind them...just visible under the surface of the water. Loved the post!!