The Eurasian Spoonbill or Common Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) is a wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae, breeding in southern Eurasia from Spain to Japan, and also in North Africa. 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 north to the United Kingdom.
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.
There are three subspecies:
- P. l. leucorodia, the nominate race, occupies all the range except as below.
- P. l. balsaci. Islands off the Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania.
- P. l. archeri. The coasts of the Red Sea and Somalia.
Birds in Asia are sometimes separated as P. l. major
Habitat and behaviour
The Eurasian Spoonbill occurs in marshy wetlands with some open shallow water, nesting in colonies in trees or reedbeds. It does not usually share colonies with storks or herons.
The Eurasian Spoonbill usually lays four eggs. It feeds on various fish, crustacean and amphibians.
The Eurasian Spoonbill is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
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