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African Spoonbill by Steve Murdock

Spoonbill, African

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Description

The African Spoonbill has pure white feathers, with red skin on the face, a grayish beak with reddish edges, and bright pink-red legs. The beak is flat with wider, rounded ends resembling a spoon. It stands about 90 cm (35 inches) tall, weighs about 1300-2500 g (about 3 pounds) and has a wingspan of about 100 cm (40 inches). The thin legs and pointed toes help it to wade in the water.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Pelecaniformes
Family
Threskiornithidae
Genus
Platalea
Species
P. alba
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
~90 cm (35 inches)
Weight
1300-2500 g (about 3 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Platalea alba as a species of Least Concern. The species population is considered stable and estimated to include between 7,300 and 73,000 mature individuals.

Social Life
African spoonbills are gregarious birds living in large colonies of up to 250 pairs, often with ibis and herons. They are believed to be nomadic in mainland Africa, moving with the rains, but sedentary in Madagascar. They are not a very vocal birds. The alarm call is a loud grunt.

Habitat and Range
The African spoonbill lives in shallow inland waters, such as marshes, lakes and reservoirs throughout much of subsaharan Africa. It is less likely to be found in coastal lagoons or estuaries. Its range stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia, south to the Cape Province of South Africa, and western Madagascar.

Diet
African spoonbills eat small fish and aquatic invertebrates. They wade in shallow water in small groups of up to 10 birds. They sweep their beaks side to side, or use them to probe the soft mud.

Lifespan
About 15 years.

Predators
Due to the large flock size, predators are few, but crows, vultures, snakes, and some mammals prey upon the eggs and young.

Reproduction
African spoonbills nest in pairs, are monogamous, and prefer to nest in colonies of up to 250 pairs.
Sexual Maturity: about 3 years.
Mating Season: Mating season peaks in the dry season from western Africa to the Sudan and mainly in the spring in South Africa.
Incubation: 25-29 days
No. of Young: The female lays 2-3 spotted eggs on a flattish oval platform made of reeds or sticks, often on partially submerged rocks or trees. Both parents care for the young, with the female on day shift and the male on night shift. The chick feeds by putting its head into the parent’s beak to get regurgitated food. The chicks hatch covered in white down. They fledge at about 46 days. Parents continue to care for the chicks for another 3-4 weeks. The successful fledge rate is not high, about 0.8 chicks per pair of birds per year.

Information

Description

The African Spoonbill has pure white feathers, with red skin on the face, a grayish beak with reddish edges, and bright pink-red legs. The beak is flat with wider, rounded ends resembling a spoon. It stands about 90 cm (35 inches) tall, weighs about 1300-2500 g (about 3 pounds) and has a wingspan of about 100 cm (40 inches). The thin legs and pointed toes help it to wade in the water.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Pelecaniformes
Family
Threskiornithidae
Genus
Platalea
Species
P. alba
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
~90 cm (35 inches)
Weight
1300-2500 g (about 3 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Platalea alba as a species of Least Concern. The species population is considered stable and estimated to include between 7,300 and 73,000 mature individuals.

Social Life
African spoonbills are gregarious birds living in large colonies of up to 250 pairs, often with ibis and herons. They are believed to be nomadic in mainland Africa, moving with the rains, but sedentary in Madagascar. They are not a very vocal birds. The alarm call is a loud grunt.

Habitat and Range
The African spoonbill lives in shallow inland waters, such as marshes, lakes and reservoirs throughout much of subsaharan Africa. It is less likely to be found in coastal lagoons or estuaries. Its range stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia, south to the Cape Province of South Africa, and western Madagascar.

Diet
African spoonbills eat small fish and aquatic invertebrates. They wade in shallow water in small groups of up to 10 birds. They sweep their beaks side to side, or use them to probe the soft mud.

Lifespan
About 15 years.

Predators
Due to the large flock size, predators are few, but crows, vultures, snakes, and some mammals prey upon the eggs and young.

Reproduction
African spoonbills nest in pairs, are monogamous, and prefer to nest in colonies of up to 250 pairs.
Sexual Maturity: about 3 years.
Mating Season: Mating season peaks in the dry season from western Africa to the Sudan and mainly in the spring in South Africa.
Incubation: 25-29 days
No. of Young: The female lays 2-3 spotted eggs on a flattish oval platform made of reeds or sticks, often on partially submerged rocks or trees. Both parents care for the young, with the female on day shift and the male on night shift. The chick feeds by putting its head into the parent’s beak to get regurgitated food. The chicks hatch covered in white down. They fledge at about 46 days. Parents continue to care for the chicks for another 3-4 weeks. The successful fledge rate is not high, about 0.8 chicks per pair of birds per year.