Cape Shoveler

Kaapse slobeend

Cape Shoveler (Anas smithii)

The Cape Shoveler (Anas smithii) is a dabbling duck from the family of water birds that includes ducks, geese, and swans (Anatidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
Kaapse slobeend
English name:
Cape Shoveler
German name:
French name:
Canard de Smith
Scientific name:
Anas smithii

Scientific classification




Has dark brown upperparts and underparts, with a mottled effect given by pale edges’ feathers. It has greenish-black rump and upper tail feathers. Tail is dark brown. Tertials and scapulars are glossy bluish-black. Upperwing coverts are greyish-blue, with broad white tips on great coverts. Primaries are dark brown. Secondaries are metallic blue-green. Underwing is whitish, mottled with brownish leading edge. Flight feathers are greyish-brown. 
Male has yellowish head and neck. Large spatula-shaped bill is dark. Eyes are yellow. Legs and webbed feet are bright orange-yellow.

The female is duller, but more mottled than male. Head and neck are darker and less contrasted than in male. Wings are duller, greyish, with indistinct pale tips on great coverts. Eyes are dark brown and bill is slightly smaller. Legs and webbed feet are greyish-yellow. 

Resembles female, with more mottled plumage on upperparts. Young male reaches the wing color pattern relatively soon. 

Standard Measurements

Body Length (cm):
The male (drake) of the Cape Shoveler measures approximately 51-53 centimeters. The female measures approximately 51-53 centimeters.
Body Weight (grams):
The male will weight about 590-680 gram. The female will weight about 590-680 gram.
The weight is notoriously variable and can only be used as indication!

Dabbling Ducks are generally hardy, easy to maintain and easy to breed. Shelter may be required by some of the smaller species in winter. They should be provided with cover (including marginal pond cover) and loafing areas as well as water. A pen which is 50% water is suggested. The water may be shallow (i.e. no more than two feet deep is required), and muddy areas for dabbling in are also appreciated. These ducks are generally good in mixed collections, although the smaller and quieter species may be bullied. Territorial disputes between ducks of the same species may be avoided by keeping only one pair of each species in an enclosure, unless the area is very large. For a single pair of ducks a pen are of 50 to 100 square metres, depending on the size of duck, should be provided.

Cape shovelers are ground nesters and both close ground cover and ground level nest boxes should be provided. Hand-rearing is generally preferred, as these ducks are generally poor parents in captive conditions, particularly in enclosures shared with other waterfowl.

Cape shovelers are winter-hardy and peaceable. They prefer fairly shallow muddy water and good marginal pond cover. These ducks are easy to breed; close ground cover and ground-level nest boxes should be provided.

These ducks are prone to hybridization, particularly with closely related species, which should be kept apart from one another. Hybrids have been reported with Cinnamon teal (Anas cyanoptera ) and Red shoveler (Anas platalea).

The female Cape Shoveler usually lays from 5-12 cream to buff or greenish eggs and incubates them for 27-28 days.

Artificial incubating:

The ideal relative humidity for incubating most waterfowl eggs is 55% (ground nesters) and 40% (cavity nesters). The temperature is usually 37.4°C. Set ventilation as recommended by the incubator manufacturer. Eggs must be turned, either automatically or by hand, a minimum of 4 times a day. As the duckling develops there is a loss of water from the egg and the air sac gets bigger. In normal development of an egg with a 27-28 days incubation, the air sac occupies about a third of it three days earlier. Cleanliness is vital and ideally eggs should be moved to a separate hatcher at this point, where the humidity should be increased to 65% and even higher once they have pipped internally.

Bird banding:
Recommended closed leg band ring size for the Cape Shoveler is 9 mm.
The leg band ring can only be applied on a young dabbling duck at around 12 days old.

It doesn't matter what leg that you band, but it's good to have a consistent system.
Suggested: Left leg = Female, Right leg = Male
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Maintenance food:
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Photos of the Cape Shoveler