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African Spoonbill Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Platalea alba
  • Class

    Birds
  • Order

    Ciconiiformes
  • Range

    This wetland bird can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa

  • Habitat

    The African spoonbill inhabits wetland areas such as marshes, swamps and riverbanks as well as plains and savannas.

  • Niche

    The African spoonbill feeds on fish, crustacean and insects that it locates in the water.

  • Life History

    The spoonbill's nest, generally located in trees above water, is built from sticks and reeds and lined with leaves. During breeding season, the female lays three-five spotted eggs, and the male and female both take turns incubating them. African spoonbill chicks typically hatch after a month of incubation and are ready to leave the nest after another month of care.

  • Special Adaptations

    • The African spoonbill's unique beak is used to locate prey in water with low visibility. To hunt, the bird opens its bill in the water and sweeps it back and forth, snapping at any fish, crustaceans or insects it comes into contact with.
    • The African spoonbill's long legs and thin, pointed toes enable it to walk easily through varying depths of water.

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2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 • 312-742-2000

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