Encyclopedia > Spoonbill

  Article Content



Roseate Spoonbill
Scientific classification
Genera: Platelea, Ajaia
Platelea leucorodia
Platelea minor
Platelea alba
Platelea regia
Platelea flavipes
Ajaia ajaja
Spoonbills are a group of large long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae. Ibises are in the same family.

All have large flat spatulate bills, and feed by wading through shallow water, sweeping the partly-opened bill from side to side: the moment a small aquatic creatures touches the inside of the bill—an insect, crustacean, or tiny fish—it is snapped shut. Spoonbills generally prefer fresh water to salt but are found in both environments. They need to feed for many hours each day.

Spoonbills are monogamous but, so far as is known, only for one season at a time. Most species nest in trees or reed-beds[?], often with ibises or herons. The male gathers nesting material—mostly sticks and reeds, sometimes taken from an old nest—the female weaves it into a large, shallow bowl or platform which varies in its shape and structural integrity according to species.

The female lays a clutch of about 3 smooth, oval white eggs and both parents incubate; chicks hatch one at a time rather than all together. The newly-hatched young are blind and cannot care for themselves immediately; both parents feed them by partial reguritation. Chicks bills are short and straight, and only gain the characteristic spoonbill shape as the young mature. Feeding continues for a few weeks longer after the family leaves the nest. The primary cause of brood failure appears not to be predation but starvation.

The spoonbill family is one of the families in the order Ciconiiformes, which also includes several other wading bird families:

The six species of spoonbill in two genera are distibuted over much of the world.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill.
Larger version

  • Common Spoonbill, Platelea leucorodia. This is the most widespread species, which occurs in the northeast of Africa and much of Europe and Asia across to Japan. Adults and juveniles are largely white with black outer wing-tips and dark bills and legs. Breeds in reed-beds, usually without other species.
  • Black-faced Spoonbill, Platelea minor. Found in China, Korea and Japan.
  • African Spoonbill, Platelea alba. Breeds in Africa and Madagascar. A large white species similar to Common Spoonbill, from which it can be distinguished by its pink face and usually paler bill. Its food is insects and other small creatures, and it nests in trees, marshes or rocks.
  • Royal Spoonbill Platelea regia. Most common in south-east Australia, but regularly found in smaller numbers on other parts of the continent when temporary wetlands form; in New Zealand, particularly the South Island, and sometimes as stragglers in New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Pacific Islands. Its food is aquatic life, and it nests in trees, marshes or reed-beds.
  • Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platelea flavipes. Common in south-east Australia, not unusual on the remainder of the continent, vagrant to New Zealand, Lord Howe Island[?] and Norfolk Island. Its food is aquatic life, and it nests in trees, marshes or reed-beds.
  • Roseate Spoonbill, Ajaia ajaja. Adults are largely pink. They occur in South America and Caribbean. and southern Florida. They nest in Mangrove trees and feed on aquatic life.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Museums in England

... Water Museum[?], Leek, Staffordshire Izaak Walton Cottage Museum[?] Suffolk Amber Museum[?], Southwold Beccles Museum[?] Ipswich ...

This page was created in 24.5 ms