Royal Spoonbill


Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)

The Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) is a spoonbill from the family of ibises and spoonbills (Threskiornithidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
English name:
Royal Spoonbill
German name:
French name:
Spatule royale
Scientific name:
Platalea regia

Scientific classification




The Royal Spoonbill is a large white waterbird with black, spatulate (spoon-shaped) bill, facial skin, legs and feet. During the breeding season, it has a distinctive nuchal (back of head or nape of neck) crest, which can be up to 20 cm long in male birds (usually shorter in females). The crest can be erected during mating displays to reveal bright pink skin underneath. Breeding adults also have a creamy-yellow wash across the lower neck and upper breast and a strip of bright pink skin along the edge of the underwings which is obvious when the bird opens its wings. The facial skin is black with a yellow patch above the eye and a red patch in the middle of the forehead, in front of the crest feathers.

Females are slightly smaller with shorter legs and bill. Out of breeding season, the nuchal crests are reduced, the underwing is not bright pink and the plumage is less brilliant, often appearing 'dirty'.

Young birds are similar to non-breeding adults without a crest or coloured face patches, and are slightly smaller with a shorter, smoother bill. 

Standard Measurements

Body Length (cm):
The male (drake) of the Royal Spoonbill measures approximately 74-81 centimeters. The female measures approximately 74-81 centimeters.
Body Weight (grams):
The male will weight about 1400-2070 gram. The female will weight about 1400-2070 gram.
The weight is notoriously variable and can only be used as indication!

A solid bowl-shaped nest is built of sticks and twigs lined with leaves and water plants, and is usually placed in the crown of a tree over water or among high reeds and rushes. Nest sites may be reused year after year. Both sexes incubate the eggs and feed the young. When threatened at the nest, the adult birds will raise all their feathers to appear much larger and crouch down low over the nest. 

The birds are highly sensitive to disturbance in the breeding season!

The female Royal Spoonbill usually lays from 2-3 white to yellowish eggs and incubates them for 21 days.

Bird banding:
Recommended closed leg band ring size for the Royal Spoonbill is 0 mm.
The leg band ring can only be applied on a young spoonbill at around 0 days old.

It doesn't matter what leg that you band, but it's good to have a consistent system.
Suggested: Left leg = Female, Right leg = Male

Photos of the Royal Spoonbill

Videos of the Royal Spoonbill