Eurasian spoonbill

The Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), or common spoonbill, is a wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. The genus name Platalea is from Latin and means "broad", referring to the distinctive shape of the bill, and leucorodia is from Ancient Greek leukerodios "spoonbill", itself derived from leukos, "white" and erodios "heron".[2] In England it was traditionally known as the "shovelard", a name later used for the Northern Shoveller.

Eurasian spoonbill
Eurasian Spoonbill-2
Adult in breeding plumage
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Genus: Platalea
P. leucorodia
Binomial name
Platalea leucorodia
Eurasian spoonbill video
Обыкновенная колпица
Common spoonbill in a Rostov-on-don zoo, Russia. The most adverse impact on the populations of this species have a draining of waterlogged lands and environment pollution.
Косарі в дельті ДУнаю
Common spoonbill in Danube Biosphere Reserve, Ukraine

Taxonomy and systematics

Platalea leucorodia -Holes Bay, Poole, Dorset, England-8
Juvenile in Holes Bay, Dorset, England

A study of mitochondrial DNA of the spoonbills found that the Eurasian spoonbill is sister taxon to a clade containing the royal and black-faced spoonbills.[3]

Eurasian spoonbill
A Eurasian spoonbill in Bharatpur Bird sanctuary, Rajasthan, India

The Eurasian spoonbill has three subspecies:[4]

Birds in Asia are sometimes separated as P. l. major.


This species is almost unmistakable in most of its range. The breeding bird is all white except for its dark legs, black bill with a yellow tip, and a yellow breast patch like a pelican. It has a crest in the breeding season. Non-breeders lack the crest and breast patch, and immature birds have a pale bill and black tips to the primary flight feathers. Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched. The Eurasian spoonbill differs from the African spoonbill with which in overlaps in winter, in that the latter species has a red face and legs, and no crest.

They are mostly silent. Even at their breeding colonies the main sounds are bill snapping, occasional deep grunting and occasional trumpeting noises.

Distribution and habitat

This is a Palearctic species, breeding from the United Kingdom and Spain in the west through to Japan, and also in North Africa. In Europe, only the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Hungary and Greece have sizeable populations.[5] Most birds migrate to the tropics in winter, with European breeders mainly going to Africa, but a few remaining in mild winter areas of western Europe south to the United Kingdom. It was extirpated from the United Kingdom in the later part of the seventeenth century, although in the previous century it had been a widespread breeding species in the south-east, even near London. Sporadic breeding attempts in the early 21st century culminated with the formation of a colony at Holkham in Norfolk in 2010. In 2011, 8 breeding pairs nested, successfully fledging 14 young.[6]

eurasian spoonbill

Eurasian spoonbills show a preference for extensive shallow, wetlands with muddy, clay or fine sandy beds. They may inhabit any type of marsh, river, lake, flooded area and mangrove swamp, whether fresh, brackish or saline, but especially those with islands for nesting or dense emergent vegetation (e.g. reedbeds) and scattered trees or shrubs (especially willow Salix spp., oak Quercus spp. or poplar Populus spp.). Eurasian spoonbills may also frequent sheltered marine habitats during the winter such as deltas, estuaries, tidal creeks and coastal lagoons.[1]

Behaviour and ecology


More northerly breeding populations are fully migratory but may only migrate short distances while other, more southerly populations are resident and nomadic or partially migratory. In the Palearctic, the species breeds in spring (e.g. from April) but in tropical parts of its range it times breeding to coincide with rainfall. Breeding is normally in single species colonies or in small single species groups amidst mixed-species colonies of other waterbirds such as herons, egrets and cormorants. Outside the breeding season Eurasian spoonbills forage singly or in small flocks of up to 100 individuals. Migration is usually conducted in flocks of up to 100 individuals. Most activity takes place during the morning and evening (although in coastal areas it foraging is governed by tidal rhythms), they often roost communally in roosts which are up to 15 km (9.3 mi) away from the feeding areas.[1]

The nest is a platform of sticks and vegetation which is either constructed on the ground on islands in lakes and rivers or in dense stands of reeds, bushes, mangroves or deciduous trees up to 5 m (16 ft) above the ground. Within colonies neighbouring nests are usually quite close together, no more than 1 or 2 m (3.3 or 6.6 ft) apart. Breeding colonies are normally sited within 10–15 km (6.2–9.3 mi) of feeding areas, often much less (although the species may also feed up to 35–40 km (22–25 mi) away).[1]


The diet consists of aquatic insects, mollusks, newts, crustaceans, worms, leeches, frogs, tadpoles and small fish up to 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) long. It may also take algae or small fragments of aquatic plants (although these are possibly ingested accidentally with animal matter).[1]


Threats to the Eurasian spoonbill include habitat destruction by drainage and degradation by pollution, It is especially adversely affected by the disappearance of reed swamps. In Greece, over-fishing and disturbance have caused the population to decline, and human exploitation of eggs and nestlings for food has threatened the species in the past.[1] As stated above it has recently started to breed in the United Kingdom from where it was extirpated in the 17th century.[7] The Eurasian spoonbill international expert group (ESIEG) is one of the first research network created on a waterbird species. It was formed in 1991 and then linked to Eurosite until 2013 when the group became an AEWA International Species Expert Groups. An international action plan for the Eurasian Spoonbill was adopted in 2008. ESIEG is in charge of its implementation.



Spoonbill at Gudavi

Junge Löffler im Nest


Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) at Bharatpur I IMG 5670
Spoonbill from the Crossley ID Guide Britain and Ireland

ID composite

Platalea Leucorodia in Danubius Pannonico-Mysicus 1726 by Marsigli
Hieronymus Bosch 024

Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights, 15th century


Naumann: Naturgeschichte der Vögel Mitteleuropas, 1905

1597 Birds 60

Hungarian stamp issued in 1959

The Soviet Union 1968 CPA 3676 stamp (Eurasian Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis (Astrakhan Nature Reserve))

USSR stamp, 1968

Platalea leucorodia MHNT.ZOO.2010.11.61.1

Museum specimen - île Kiji, Mauritania


  1. ^ a b c d e f BirdLife International (2016). "Platalea leucorodia". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22697555A86435028. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 157, 309. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Chesser, R. Terry; Yeung, Carol K.L.; Yao, Cheng-Te; Tians, Xiu-Hua; Li, Shou-Hsien (2010). "Molecular phylogeny of the spoonbills (Aves: Threskiornithidae) based on mitochondrial DNA". Zootaxa. 2603 (2603): 53–60. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.2603.1.2. ISSN 1175-5326.
  4. ^ Gill, F.; Donsker, D., eds. (2017). "IOC World Bird List (v 7.2)". doi:10.14344/IOC.ML.7.2. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  5. ^ Overdijk, O. (2002). "Lepelaar Platalea leucorodia". Atlas van de Nederlandse Broedvogels 1998–2000 [Atlas of the Breeding Birds of the Netherlands]. Nederlandse Fauna 5 (in Dutch). Leiden: Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Naturalis, KNNV Uitgeverij & European Invertebrate Survey-Nederland. p. 88. ISBN 978-90-5011-161-4.
  6. ^ "Breeding spoonbills return to Holkham". 12 September 2011. Archived from the original on 5 June 2014.
  7. ^ Unwin, Brian (27 August 2000). "Spoonbills return to breed in the UK after 300 years". The Independent. London.

External links

African spoonbill

The African spoonbill (Platalea alba) is a long-legged wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. The species is widespread across Africa and Madagascar, including Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Attiveri Bird Sanctuary

Attiveri Bird Sanctuary (Kannada: ಅತ್ತಿವೇರಿ ಪಕ್ಷಿಧಾಮ) is a village in the Mundgod taluk of Uttara Kannada district in the Indian state of Karnataka. It lies 15 km from Mundgod and 43 km from Hubli-Dharwad.

Spread over an area of about 2.23 km2, the sanctuary is located in and around the Attiveri reservoir. The part of the sanctuary surrounding the reservoir has riverine and deciduous forests.

Birds inhabiting this area include cattle egret, Indian and little cormorants, black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, pied and white-throated kingfishers, Indian grey hornbill and barn swallow. The agricultural fields surrounding the sanctuary attract a variety of aquatic creatures.

The best time to visit the sanctuary is between November and March.

Gornje Podunavlje

Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve (Serbian: Горње Подунавље) is a large protected area of wetland in the northwest of Serbia (Vojvodina

province), on the Danube's left bank. It comprises two large marshes, Monoštorski Rit and Apatinski Rit and vast forests, meadows, ponds, swamps and the Danube's meanders, including 66 km (41 mi) of the Danube course (1366 – 1433 km). It is projected as a part of the future trans-boundary biosphere reserve "Mura-Drava-Danube", a five country project, dubbed the "Amazon of Europe".The name means "Upper Danube Valley". Parts of the nature reserve are subject to the Croatia–Serbia border dispute; Croatia claims some areas under Serbian control on the eastern side of the river.

Gudavi Bird Sanctuary

Gudavi Bird Sanctuary (Kannada: ಗುಡವಿ ಪಕ್ಷಿಧಾಮ) is located in the Soraba taluk of Sagara Subdivision in the Indian state of Karnataka. Gudavi Bird Sanctuary is located on the Banavasi Road in Gudavi of Sorab Taluk which is 16.01 km from Sorab town. The bird sanctuary is one of the best five of Karnataka. It is spread over an area of 0.74 square km.

As per survey, 217 different species of birds belonging to 48 families are found at this place. A natural lake and the trees gives shelter to this birds. The picturesque Gudavi Lake with trees all along its banks is a beautiful sight in itself. It is a small seasonal lake and is filled with water mostly in the rainy season. Various avian species migrate from across the globe in different seasons for breeding. A platform is built for bird watchers to have a closer look at the birds.

Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary

The Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary is a 4.537-square-kilometre (1.752 sq mi) protected area located in the Ariyalur District of the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The sanctuary is about 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Thanjavur. This freshwater lake is fed by Pullambadi, Kattalal canal and attracts thousands of birds every year. This lake was declared as a sanctuary in 1999 by the Government of Tamil Nadu. About 200 birds are species recorded from this sanctuary. Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary is one of the Important Bird Areas (IBA’s) of Tamil Nadu (Code No. IN268, Criteria: A1, A4i, A4iii).Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary is home to migratory birds such as Bar-headed goose, Northern pintail, White Stork, Northern shoveler, Garganey, Blue-winged teal, Osprey and common sandpiper The sanctuary is a large irrigation tank located in the northern alluvial plains of the Kaveri river. It is fed during the northeast monsoons by the Pullambadi canal. It is also referred to together with another nearby tank and called Vettakudi-Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary. Farm lands especially paddy, sugarcane, cotton, castor and maize are surrounded by this lake and irrigated from this lake. Acacia nilotica planted inside the lake is serving as a major nesting site for birds.During winter, the total number of birds recorded is between 20,000 to 60,000, mostly Anatidae. Globally threatened species such as Greater Spotted Eagle, Oriental Darter, Black-headed ibis and Spot-billed Pelican were reported in this site

Karaivetti is one of the important active heronries in Tamil Nadu. Spot-billed Pelican, Black-headed ibis, Painted Stork, Oriental Darter, Eurasian Spoonbill are some of the birds species breeding in this sanctuaryOther fauna inhabit this region are Golden Jackal, Black-naped hare, Indian grey mongoose and nearly 15 species of fish were reported

Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary attracts birdwatchers mainly during the winter season. Interpretation centre explaining the importance of the wetland and waterfowl of this sanctuary was established and opened for public in 2015.

Kumana National Park

Kumana National Park in Sri Lanka is renowned for its avifauna, particularly its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. The park is 391 kilometres (243 mi) southeast of Colombo on Sri Lanka's southeastern coast. Kumana is contiguous with Yala National Park. Kumana was formerly known as Yala East National Park, but changed to its present name on 5th September 2006.The park was closed from 1985 to March 2003 because of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam) attacks. It was also affected by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.

Lac de Guiers

The Lac de Guiers or Lake Guiers is a lake in northern Senegal, south of the city of Richard-Toll and in the Louga and Saint-Louis regions. It is a chief source of fresh water for the city of Dakar, hundreds of kilometers to the south-west, through underground pipes.

It is about 35 kilometers long and 8 kilometers wide, and is supplied by the Ferlo or Bounoum River, which flows north into its southern end, from Fouta in the rainy season. Water used to flow out to the Senegal River north through the Portuguese River, but this has been replaced by a straight canal to Richard-Toll. A dam was built in 1916 to prevent saltwater flowing in from Taoué River and the Senegal River delta.The shores are mostly fertile. The north shore and surrounding area have been converted to a large sugar-growing region irrigated with water from the lake.

Lac de Guiers is designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International; the key species are lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor), glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), African spoonbill (Platalea alba), white-winged tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) and river prinia (Prinia fluviatilis).The lake has a complicated history involving the kingdoms of Tekrur and Waalo and the Empire of Jolof (Diolof). Notably, the settlement of Nder, the third and final capital of the former Kingdom of Waalo, was located on the west shores of the Lake. The royal compound or "keur" is still there. Previously Lac de Guiers was called Lac du Panier Foule or Pania Fuli, referring to the Fula people.

Lagoa do Rabil

The Lagoa do Rabil (Rabil lagoon) is a wetland site in the Cape Verde archipelago, on the island of Boa Vista. It has been recognised as a wetland of international importance by designation under the Ramsar Convention since 2005. The site lies at the mouth of the seasonally flowing Ribeira do Rabil, near the town of Rabil on the west coast of Boa Vista. The site comprises the river mouth, the associated lagoon, the surrounding dunes system and its vegetation dominated by Tamarix, Cyperus, Zygophyllum and Euphorbia species. The site supports a population of Iago sparrows and several species of waders, including Eurasian spoonbill. The endemic lizards Hemidactylus bouvieri and Chioninia stangeri are present.


Okanj (Serbian Окањ) is a saline oxbow lake situated near the village of Elemir in the Zrenjanin commune, western Banat, Vojvodina Province, Serbia. It was formed from a meander of the Tisa River (UTM: DR43) and is now about 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) from the river's left bank.The whole depression occupies 200 hectares and contains brackish water. In some parts the edges are surrounded by reeds, and there are also extreme saline edges, with short halophylous vegetation.

Patna Bird Sanctuary

Patna Bird Sanctuary is a protected area in Uttar Pradesh's Etah district encompassing a lentic lake that is an important wintering ground for migrating birds. It was founded in 1991 and covers an area of 1.09 km2 (0.42 sq mi). With a lake area of only 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi), it is the smallest bird sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh.

The water quality of the lake supports a wide range of avifauna during winter season. The entire lake area gets covered by profuse growth of macrophytic vegetation of water hyacinth and Potamogeton species during summers.

About 200,000 birds of 300 different bird species frequent the sanctuary. More than 106 species of migratory and resident birds are known to have their resting habitats around the lake. The important aquatic birds inhabiting lake are:

Lesser whistling-duck

Graylag goose

Comb duck

Ruddy shelduck


Eurasian wigeon

Indian spot-billed duck

Northern shoveler

Northern pintail

Green-winged teal

Common pochard

Ferruginous duck

Baer's pochard

Tufted duck

Indian peafowl

Common quail

Black francolin

Gray francolin

Little grebe

Asian openbill

Woolly-necked stork

Black-necked stork

Little cormorant

Great cormorant

Purple heron

Cattle egret

Indian pond-heron

Black-headed ibis

Red-naped ibis

Eurasian spoonbill

Black-shouldered kite

Egyptian vulture

Booted eagle

Bonelli's eagle


Black kite

Eurasian coot

Sarus crane

Black-winged stilt

Black-tailed godwit

Laughing dove

Greater coucal

Rose-ringed parakeet

Plum-headed parakeet

Long-tailed shrike

Black drongo

Rufous treepie

Ashy-crowned sparrow-lark

Bengal bushlark

Red-vented bulbul

Plain leaf warbler

Ashy prinia

Plain prinia

Common babbler

Oriental magpie-robin

Brahminy starling

Common myna

Bank myna

Purple sunbird

Indian silverbill

Scaly-breasted munia


The bird genus Pseudibis consists of two South-East Asian species in the ibis subfamily, Threskiornithinae. The giant ibis is also sometimes placed in this genus.

Genus Pseudibis

The white-shouldered ibis is critically endangered.

Puna ibis

The Puna ibis (Plegadis ridgwayi) is a species of bird in the family Threskiornithidae. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. Its natural habitats are swamps, marshes and lakes, and most of its range is in the Andean highlands, including the puna, but locally it occurs down to sea level. It has been domesticated by the Uru people for meat and eggs.

Royal spoonbill

The royal spoonbill (Platalea regia) also known as the black-billed spoonbill, occurs in intertidal flats and shallows of fresh and saltwater wetlands in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. It has also been recorded as a vagrant in New Caledonia. The royal spoonbill lives in wetlands and feeds on crustaceans, fish and small insects by sweeping its bill from side to side. It always flies with its head extended. Widespread throughout its large range, the royal spoonbill is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Saloum Delta

Saloum Delta or Sine-Saloum Delta is a river delta in Senegal at the mouth of the Saloum River where it flows into the North Atlantic Ocean. The delta covers 180,000 hectares. It extends 72.5 kilometers along the coastline and 35 kilometers inland.In 2011, a 145,811-hectare portion of the delta was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site contains "brackish channels encompassing over 200 islands and islets, mangrove forest, an Atlantic marine environment, and dry forest." Saloum Delta National Park covers 76,000 hectares of the delta.

The bird species that breed or winter in the area include royal tern, greater flamingo, Eurasian spoonbill, curlew sandpiper, ruddy turnstone, and little stint. Aside from being a valued breeding ground for birds, the delta contains 218 shellfish mounds and artefacts unearthed at some 28 of the burial grounds have provided an important insight into the history of human occupation in the area.

Saloum Delta National Park

Saloum Delta National Park or Parc National du Delta du Saloum in Senegal, is a 76,000-hectare (190,000-acre) national park. Established in 1976, it is situated within the Saloum Delta at the juncture of the Saloum River and the North Atlantic.

The park, which forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar Convention site, lies within a 180,000 ha (440,000-acre) biosphere reserve. Water comprises 61,000 ha (150,000 acres) of the park, intertidal mangroves and saltwater vegetation cover 7,000 ha (17,000 acres), and savannah and forest cover 8,000 ha (20,000 acres). It lies on the East Atlantic Flyway. The bird species that breed or winter in the area include royal tern, greater flamingo, Eurasian spoonbill, curlew sandpiper, ruddy turnstone, and little stint.


Spoonbills are a genus, Platalea, of large, long-legged wading birds. The spoonbills have a global distribution, being found on every continent except Antarctica. The genus name Platalea derives from Latin and means "broad", referring to the distinctive shape of the bill. Six species are recognised, which although usually placed in a single genus have sometimes been split into three genera.

All spoonbills have large, flat, spatulate bills and feed by wading through shallow water, sweeping the partly opened bill from side to side. The moment any small aquatic creature touches the inside of the bill—an insect, crustacean, or tiny fish—it is snapped shut. Spoonbills generally prefer fresh water to salt but are found in both environments. They need to feed many hours each day.


Strijen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈstrɛi.ən] (listen)) is a town and municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. The municipality, covering an area of 57.70 km2 (22.28 sq mi) of which 6.85 km2 (2.64 sq mi) is water, is located on the Hoeksche Waard island along the Hollands Diep estuary.

Strijen hosts a public library, swimming pool, a small shopping centre and a local museum.

Furthermore, Strijen is home to an important and welcome resting stop for migrating birds, especially geese. During winter, the endangered Eurasian spoonbill uses this area as a foraging ground.

The municipality of Strijen also includes the population centres of Cillaarshoek, De Klem, Mookhoek, Oudendijk, and Strijensas.


Threskiornis is a genus of ibises, wading birds of the family Threskiornithidae. They occur in the warmer parts of the Old World in southern Asia, Australasia and Sub-Saharan Africa. They are colonial breeders, which build a stick nest in a tree or bush and lay two to four eggs. They occur in marshy wetlands and feed on various fish, frogs, crustaceans and insects.


The family Threskiornithidae includes 34 species of large wading birds. The family has been traditionally classified into two subfamilies, the ibises and the spoonbills; however recent genetic studies are casting doubt on the arrangement, and revealing the spoonbills to be nested within the old world ibises, and the new world ibises as an early offshoot.

Traditional listing of ibises and spoonbills (family: Threskiornithidae)


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