This is a handsome duck, the males with green heads and curly tails and females with bright blue speculum, bordered fore and aft with white. It is the ancestor of most domestic varieties. When protected it soon becomes trusting and tame but when it is hunted it has a reputation as one of the wildest of wild ducks: it has learned to get along with all kinds of men so is widespread and common in most of the northern hemisphere.
Both sexes of the Northern Shoveler resemble mallards but differ in having the huge broad bill which unfortunately spends most of ts time underwater. In flight shovelers have a big patch of light blue on the fore part of the wing (as in Blue-winged Teal) while the blue speculum of the Mallard is in the hind edge of the wing. The breast of the shoveler is white while the sides are chestnut brown: in the Mallard this is reversed with brown breast and white sides. The recurved black tail coverts of the Mallard are distinctive. Female are best distinguished by the size of the bill, when not underwater.