Northern Shoveler

Northern shoveler floating across Constitution Gardens after sunrise on December 25, 2018. This is the second year we have gone to D.C. on Christmas Day. Last year I was not shooting birds actively yet, so it was primarily a landscape trip. This year was quite the opposite where I was more excited to shoot the shovelers along the mall than seeing the sunrise from the Lincoln Memorial. When we arrived at the pond, there were about 50 shovelers and a variety of other species (herons, cormorants, gulls and a few other miscellaneous species of duck). As I expected, the shovelers were not thrilled about me shooting them. Walking closer to where they were napping and preening would send them off to the other side of the pond. I was able to get some close shots crouch-walking up slowly up to the edge of the pond.

While not knowing much about shovelers beforehand, I noticed they had hair around their bills (known as lamellae) when I took a closer look at my photos at home. They use this to skim invertebrates from the surface of the water. This particular photo does not show how long their beaks truly are as his head is turned away slightly.

Lens - Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD @ 400mm on Nikon D5500