African Spoonbill

Platalea alba

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.

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27 thoughts on “African Spoonbill

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      That is strange indeed, as we’ve seen lots of them in the Midlands.Would love to understand why they’re not venturing into your metropolitan areas as they do here.

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  1. photobyjohnbo

    I saw several of these in Costa Rica on a cruise excursion… unfortunately, they were doing everything they could to keep me from photographing them. I didn’t get one good photo of any of them. Your photos, on the other hand… very nice!

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  2. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

    Is dit nou n “lepelaar” wat hul in Hollands noem? Ek het nie besef ek is so ver agter met my lees nie. Klink of jul goed besig is met “what have you”. Onthou om darem bietjie stadiger asem te haal en arms en bene ook te strek. Die lewe jaag verby.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Baie dankie vir die goeie wense, Ineke! Was n rowwe tyd, maar van vandag af vat ons dit bietjie rustiger – dis amper weer langnaweek!

      Jy is heeltemal reg, dis n lepelaar in Afrikaans ook.

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