The Cape Shoveler, or Anas smithii, is a duck species that is prevalent in the southern regions of Africa. It is a medium-sized species, being slightly larger than a Mallard but smaller than a Pintail. The males and females are easily distinguishable through their different colored feathers. The males have a flashy bronze or chesnut-colored head and are white below, while the females are predominantly mottled brown with a hint of blue-grey on the wings.
The Cape shoveler is primarily a herbivore and feeds on aquatic plants, mollusks, and aquatic invertebrates by dabbling in shallow water. Its unique bill shape is not only attractive, but it is also perfect for sifting through the mud to unearth its food. The shovel-like bill is broad and spoon-shaped, which helps to filter and strain out the small particles of food. This bird species mainly inhabit shallow wetlands, including pans, swamps, and marshes.
During mating season, the male Cape Shoveler takes on a unique display to attract a female mate. They swim rapidly through the water, often slapping their wings against the water to create a splashing sound. This display is known as the "whirring display" and it is a unique way of attracting female Cape Shovelers. Once they attract a mate, the pair will remain together for the mating season.
The Cape Shoveler is classified as a species of "least concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is because the species has a vast range and a stable population. However, certain threats do exist, such as habitat loss and hunting. Humans have also introduced non-native fish species that could outcompete native species for food, and this could have negative effects on the Cape Shoveler bird's food sources. Therefore, continued monitoring and conservation efforts are necessary to ensure the survival of this beautiful bird species.