African spoonbill

Latin Name
Platalea alba




The African spoonbill has a white body with a red face and feet. The species' long, thin beak ends in a flat, extended bulge resembling a spoon.



This wetland bird can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa


Common. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the African Spoonbill Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


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


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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ARKive video - African spoonbill - overviewARKive image - African spoonbill eggs in the nestARKive image - African spoonbill feeding young

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Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit