The African Spoonbill is a large wading bird (90cm long, weighing up to 1.8kg) with a characteristic spoon-shaped beak.
They can be found at shallow bodies of freshwater – natural and man-made lakes, pans, rivers, marshes, floodplains, estuaries and even sewerage works – where they feed on small fish and aquatic invertebrates caught by moving their bills sideways through the water. Spoonbills can often be seen close to hippos and crocodiles, hoping that these large animals will flush something edible. Breeding is timed to start just before or during the rains. They nest colonially in trees, reedbeds or on rocky islands and ledges, usually in groups numbering from 5 to 250 or more monogamous pairs and often together with other species of waterbirds as well. The nests are platforms built of sticks and reeds in which 3 to 5 eggs are incubated for around 4 weeks by both parents.
The African Spoonbill has a wide distribution and stable population, and is considered of least concern by the IUCN. They occur over almost all of South Africa with the exception of the arid northwestern corner of the country, and further range over most of Sub-Saharan Africa (except the equatorial forests) and Madagascar.