Argentine Red Shoveller - Anas platalea

The Argentine Red Shoveller is found over large areas of southern South America. Unlike most other Shovellers but as with many southern hemisphere species the Red Shoveller does not have an eclipse plumage but the males plumage does seem to fade significantly after the breeding season. This is assumed to be fading rather than moulting into a different plumage. Red shovellers are ideally suited to small mixed collections and are very straight forward to keep on a diet of pellets and grain.

This species was once relatively common in collections but sadly in recent years numbers do appear to have declined and this species needs looking after if it is to be maintained in viable numbers in captivity. If it becomes rare in captivity before effort is put into breeding there is a significant risk that a number of bloodlines will be lost and then there is a significant risk that the gene pool left will not be diverse enough to maintain the Shoveller in captivity in the long term and this really would be a shame.

The Red Shoveller does not have a particularly showy breeding display but it does perform its display over much of the year.

The main display as with many of the blue winged species consists of swimming in the vicinity of females while pumping its head up and down and constantly uttering a quiet but very distinctive tooka-tooka-tuk-tuk. This Shoveller can be expected to breed in the first season but often does not breed until it is two. It can be quite exacting in its nesting requirements, it rarely uses ground nest boxes, very definitely it prefers natural cover.

It does like tufted grass that is not to dense or tall, in my experience if the female cannot see over the top of the cover when she is in it she will be reluctant to use it. I have found that they also like nesting in clumps of nettles that have been sprayed. If you leave a clump of nettles growing until they are about twelve inches high and then spray them with weed killer they will very quickly turn black and dry out but will normally remain standing.

Provided there was still some grass growing underneath the nettles to provide slightly denser cover at ground level you will have provided an ideal natural nesting site for the Red Shoveller. Red Breasted and Brent Geese are also quite fond of this type of cover so the effort in creating a site may prove beneficial to some other species as well but will obviously not help the local butterfly population.

Red Shovellers can lay quite early in the season and should produce two clutches of between five and eight creamy buff eggs that are slightly translucent. Some females will also produce a late clutch in early Autumn. Incubation takes about twenty five days. The ducklings are straight forward to rear and grow well. As quite young adolescents it is relatively easy to determine the sexes with the males being a little larger and showing signs of the mottled flank feathers at an early stage.

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Argentine Shoveller

Norfolk Wildfowl

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