African spoonbill in exhibit

African Spoonbill

Scientific Name

Platalea alba






Sub-saharan Africa


Marshes, swamps, riverbanks, plains, and savannas

Estimated Wild Population

African spoonbill in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: LEAST CONCERN IUCN Conservation Status: LEAST CONCERN

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Physical Description

African spoonbills have striking white plumage, a featherless red face, and long red legs. Their elongated, thin beak ends in a flat, extended bulge resembling a spoon, which helps with capturing fish, crustaceans, and insects. They build nests made from sticks and leaves in trees above water. During breeding season, females lay three to five spotted eggs.

Interesting Fact 1

African spoonbills catch food by opening their bill in the water, sweeping it back and forth, and snapping at prey.

Interesting Fact 2

Their long legs and thin, pointed toes allow them to walk easily through varying depths of water.

Interesting Fact 3

These wading birds can have a nearly three-foot wingspan.

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Species Survival Plan®

We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.

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Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy. 

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Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

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