Large duck (approx 52 cm or 20.5 in), unmistakable for its bulky, flat, spoon-shaped bill. Males with bright dark green head and neck, white breast, rusty brown flanks and underparts, and dark brown back. Green speculum with white edges. Yellow eyes. Females with brown plumage in general, but distinguishable by their bill, like the males. It is a dabbling duck.
Freshwater or brackish wetlands of shallow depth, with muddy bottoms, flat banks and abundant aquatic vegetation.
Wintering species in the province. Occasionally it has bred at the mouth of the Guadalhorce. Colonial during the reproduction. Layings in April of 9 to 11 eggs. Nests in areas with very dense vegetation on the shore of the wetland. It feeds by filtering the shallow waters. To do this, it places the bill horizontally on the surface and sucks the slime, filtering algae, insects and small invertebrates. The bill has blades in the jaws that allow filtration. In deeper waters it swings like any dabbling duck.
Frequent and common. It can be watched in the mouth of the Guadalhorce and in the Fuente de Piedra and Campillos lagoons.
In Malaga northern shovelers are known as "patos paletos" ("yokel ducks"). Its Latin name (clypeata) means "duck with shield", in relation to the rusty coloured dorsal flanks that the male shows.