Bird Families

Yellow-billed spoonbill - endemic to Australia


In the past, the population of pink spoonbills was very numerous, but today the population of these beautiful birds is steadily declining.
Habitat. It lives in South America and the southeastern part of North America.

Spoonbill nesting colonies are located in hard-to-reach places (most often in impassable bogs) next to herons, ibises and cormorants. Having found a mate for themselves, the birds begin to build a nest, and in due time the female lays 3-5 white eggs in a brown speck. Both parents take turns incubating the clutch, and when the chicks appear in 23-24 days, they feed the offspring together, which remains in the nest for up to four weeks. At first, the soft beaks of the chicks are slightly bent downward, and only in the fifth week begin to expand, forming a spatula. During feeding, the chick pushes its head deep into the parent's open beak and takes food straight from the crop. Spoonbills begin to fly at five weeks of age.

Species: Pink Spoonbill - Platalea ajaja.
Family: Ibis.
Detachment: Ankle boots.
Class: Birds.
Subtype: Vertebrates.

The pink spoonbill lives in the warm climatic zone of both Americas. In North America, spoonbills are found in the flooded swamps of Florida, as well as on the coast of Louisiana and Texas, in addition, their range covers the entire central and northern part of South America up to the borders of Argentina.The traditional habitat of the pink spoonbills is the bogs along the sea coasts surrounded by dense thickets of reeds and wetlands in the depths of the land. Spoonbills are often found near fresh water bodies, but no less willingly settle in mangroves.

In recent years, the population of pink spoonbills has noticeably thinned out, because amazingly beautiful feathers have made these birds objects of mass hunting. In North America, spoonbills are protected and can breed without hindrance in specially created reserves, but in South America, the predatory hunt for them, unfortunately, continues.

Spoonbills nest in large colonies, often in company with other ankle birds and waterfowl. Almost all day they wander in shallow water in search of food, lowering their half-open beak into the water and moving their heads to the right and left, filtering the soil. The beak that has captured the prey closes instantly, and the bird vigorously throws back its head to send the catch straight down the throat. Spoonbill feeds on small aquatic animals: crustaceans, insects and their larvae, molluscs, frogs, and sometimes also small fish. The meat menu is readily complemented by herbs - seeds and pieces of aquatic plants. Spoonbills, like storks, fly with their heads extended forward, lining up in the air in long rows. Gathering to take a nap, the birds stand on one leg, often hiding their beak in plumage on their chest, and for the night they settle in places safely hidden by thickets among impassable swamps.

Did you know?

  • In the interior regions of Australia, there are two types of spoonbills.Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) is slightly smaller, more massive and nimble than its yellow-billed cousin (Platalea flavipes) and can grab even the most nimble prey, such as fish.
  • On the beak of the spoonbill there is a dense network of sensitive tactile receptors. Even a slight movement of the victim buried in the silt is enough for the bird's beak to instantly close, grabbing the prey.
  • In some marine ecosystems, spoonbills feed mainly on female shrimp, which has a noticeable effect on the sex ratio in populations of these crustaceans.

Pink Spoonbill - Platalea ajaja.
Length: 71-84 cm.
Wingspan: 100-115 cm.
Weight: 1.2 kg.
Number of eggs in a clutch: 3-5.
Incubation period: 21 days.
Food: fish, crustaceans, insects, molluscs, plants.

Beak. Long flat beak widened at the end in the form of a spatula. The inner edge of the lower jaw has a grooved surface.
Head. The skin of the unfeathered head is dark gray and yellow around the eyes.
Neck. The long neck allows the bird to get food in the water.
Wings. Part of the flight feathers are dazzling bright scarlet.
Plumage. On the neck and back, the plumage is white, on the rest of the body - pink of various shades.
Tail. The tail feathers of the short tail are bright pink.
Legs. Long legs are covered with red scales.
Fingers. Long, clawed toes provide a secure footing when walking in muddy shallow water.

Related species.
The ibis family, to which the spoonbills belong, unites 28 species of birds. The Spoonbill subfamily includes six bird species that share one common feature - a long, widened beak. Spoonbills feed mainly on shallow aquatic fauna, nest in noisy colonies and inhabit all continents except Antarctica.