African spoonbill in exhibit

African Spoonbill

Scientific Name
Platalea alba
Geographic Range
Sub-saharan Africa
Small fish and aquatic invertebrates, like crayfish and water beetles
African spoonbill in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

African spoonbills are medium-sized wading birds in the same family as ibises. Males and females alike have white plumage and red-orange legs. These birds live in breeding colonies containing up to 250 pairs and often build nests in trees with other species nearby, such as herons and cormorants. Outside of the breeding season, they remain in groups of three to 30 individuals. Little is known about their migration patterns, but they may move in response to local rainfall.

The birds favor lakes, river oxbows, and islands of vegetation for nesting. Their nests are constructed from sticks and reeds and often built over water on partially submerged trees. Females lay three or four eggs per clutch and both parents incubate them for around 23 days. Chicks fledge around 50 days after hatching and become adults at age 3.

Did You Know?

  • These birds feed by swinging their spoon-shaped bill side-to-side in shallow water and snapping it shut when they sense prey.
  • Pairs of African spoonbills court each other by preening and building nests.
  • African spoonbills are threatened by the drainage of wetlands in some areas. They are particularly vulnerable in Madagascar, as some specific breeding colonies have been destroyed there. However, they currently have stable populations.


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