African Spoonbill

Afrikaanse lepelaar

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)

The African Spoonbill (Platalea alba) is a long-legged wading bird from the family of ibis and spoonbill (Threskiornithidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
Afrikaanse lepelaar
English name::
African Spoonbill
German name:
Afrikanischer Loffler
French name:
Spatule d'Afrique
Scientific name:
Platalea alba

Scientific classification




The African Spoonbill is a long-legged wading bird. Its body is predominantly white, except for its red legs, face, and bill. This bird can be easily identified by its uniquely spoon-shaped bill. At birth, the African Spoonbill's bill does not resemble a spoon. It is born with a short beak, that gradually develops into its spoon-like shape. It usually resembles a spoon right before it is time to leave its nest. Both the male and female birds are similar in appearance.

  • African spoonbills have pink-red legs and a bare red skin between the eye and the beak.
  • They swing back and forth with foraging with beak.
  • The young are born with a short beak.

The African Spoonbill is usually a shy and alert bird. It is usually found singly, but can also be encountered in pairs or in groups. It is usually silent, except for an occasional grunt when alarmed. This bird travels by flight. It flies with its neck and legs extended, while flapping its wings steadily in the air. The African Spoonbill feeds by fishing in shallow water. It fishes for its food by swinging its open bill from side to side in the water. Its bill acts as a scythe (hooked tool) to catch its food.

Lengte man:
The male (drake) of the African Spoonbill measures approximately 90-91 centimeter. The female measures approximately 90-91 centimeter.
Gewicht man:
De man (woerd) heeft een gewicht van 1200-1900 gram. Het gewicht van de vrouw (pop) is 1200-1900 gram.
Nest placement and structure:

It lays its eggs mostly in a nest platform of sticks or reeds in a tree near water, but its nest can also be found in swamp reeds, among rocks, marsh plants, or cliffs. These nests are either near the ground or in trees over water. The inside of the nest is often lined with leaves. 

Kleur legsel:
spotted with colored dots of red, brown, or blue
Egg clutches:
2-5 eggs
27-29 days
Ring de jonge long-legged wading bird wanneer deze 0 dagen oud is met een ring van 14 millimeter groot.

Photos of the African Spoonbill

  • Platalea alba
  • Platalea alba
  • Platalea alba
  • Platalea alba (Foto: Tim Liekens)

Videos of the African Spoonbill

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