African spoonbill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from African Spoonbill)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

African spoonbill
African spoonbill (Platalea alba).jpg
Kazinga Channel, Kenya
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Genus: Platalea
P. alba
Binomial name
Platalea alba
Scopoli, 1786

Platalea tenuirostris Temminck, 1820

The African spoonbill (Platalea alba) is a long-legged wading bird[2] of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. The species is widespread across Africa and Madagascar, including Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.[2]


It lives in marshy wetlands with some open shallow water and nests in colonies in trees or reedbeds. They usually don't share colonies with storks or herons. The African spoonbill feeds in shallow water, and fishes for various fish,[2] molluscs,[2] amphibians, crustaceans,[2] insects[2] and larvae.[2] The animal uses its open bill to catch foods by swinging it from side-to-side in the water, which catches foods in its mouth.[2] Long legs and thin, pointed toes enable it to walk easily through varying depths of water.[3]

The African spoonbill is almost unmistakable through most of its range. The breeding bird is all white except for its red legs and face and long grey spatulate bill. It has no crest, unlike the common spoonbill. Immature birds lack the red face and have a yellow bill. Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched.


African spoonbill in flight
Platalea alba - MHNT

The African spoonbill begins breeding in the winter, which lasts until spring.[2] The spoonbill's nest, generally located in trees above water, is built from sticks and reeds and lined with leaves.[3] Three to five eggs are laid by the female birds, usually during the months of April or May.[2] The eggs are incubated by both parents for up to 29 days, and upon hatching the young birds are cared for by both parents for around 20 to 30 days.[2] The birds are ready to leave the nest soon afterward, and begin flying after another four weeks.[2]

The African spoonbill is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Platalea alba". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22697564A93620935. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "African Spoonbill." Archived July 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Accessed June 2011.
  3. ^ a b "African Spoonbill Fact Sheet, Lincoln Park Zoo"

Further reading[edit]

  • Grzimek, H. C. Bernhard, ed. (1972). Grzimeks Animal Life Encyclopedia of Birds. New York, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.
  • Middleton, Alex L. A. and Dr. Christopher M. Perrins, eds. (1985). The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York, New York: Facts on File, Inc.

External links[edit]