Video Muck-raking - an adaptation. Central Park
Muck-raking - an adaptation. Central Park
A Shoveler skims the water for food. Like other 'dabbling' ducks, the Shoveler, as its name well indicates has taken the art of 'dabbling' to a higher level. Its long, wide and flat beak, fully equipped with comb-like 'lamellae', allows the bird to sift through large amounts of muddy water for nutritious micro-organisms. Thus the Shoveler goes where no other duck can and carves out a unique survival niche for itself. This is called 'specialization' and can require eons of fine-tuning of an animal's anatomy - via natural selection. Accordingly, the process by which one common ancestor produces many different, specialized offshoots (as is the case in Darwin's finches) is called 'adaptive radiation'. The Shoveler is a common bird in NYC in the winter.