African Spoonbill {Platalea alba}

South Africa Wildlife

African Spoonbill {Platalea alba}

The African Spoonbill
The African Spoonbill

The African Spoonbill is a long legged wading bird. Its body is mostly white, except for its red legs, face, and bill. Easily identifiable by its uniquely spoon-shaped bill, the African Spoonbill 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. Male and female birds are similar in appearance.

The African Spoonbill is a shy and alert bird, 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 hooked tool to catch its food.

Quick Facts


Name: Platalea alba
Size: Height: 90 cm, Wing: 365-403 mm long.
Diet Description: Fish and aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans or shellfish, insects, larvae, and molluscs.

Habitat: The African Spoonbill usually resides by shallow inland waters. Habitat includes river banks, lake shores, marshes, plains, savannas and swamps.
Distribution: The African Spoonbill is commonly found in several of countries in the southern part of Africa including Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

Socialisation: The African Spoonbill is a shy and alert bird, 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 hooked tool to catch its food. .

Reproduction: The African Spoonbill usually breeds in colonies from late March through September. The female may lay 3-5 eggs during the month of April or May. 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. The egg is incubated for up to 29 days by both parents. Hatchlings are cared for by both parents for 20-30 days. Soon after, the young birds are ready to leave the nest. They begin to fly after another four weeks.

View Birdlife Menu
View Birder-friendly Accommodation (registered with Birdlife South Africa):
Gauteng, Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Garden Route, KwaZulu Natal
Northern Cape, North West Province, Western Cape or see All Birder-friendly.
With 20+ National Parks (including two of the world's most famous reserves, the Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) and numerous private reserves, your trip to South Africa would be incomplete without experiencing a South African Wildlife Safari. View South Africa Packages Tours or find a South African Tour Operator to assist you with your Travel Plans.
African Spoonbill Information and Photographs
South AfricaSouth Africa