African Spoonbill

Flamingo Plaza


In the Zoo
36 inches
36 inches
2.8-4.6 pounds
2.8-4.6 pounds
3 years
3 years

Geographic Range

Africa, from Ethiopia to Kenya to South Africa as well as the lowlands of Madagasar

Scientific Information

Scientific Name:
Platalea alba

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Activity Time Frame:
Sexual Dimorphism:
25-29 days
Lifespan in the Wild:
15 years
Lifespan in Captivity:


Least Concerned
Habitat Loss


There are six species that make up the spoonbill family. The name derives from the flat, spatula like bill, which the bird uses to feed. Sweeping its partly-opened bill from side to side, the spoonbill will snap its bill shut on small aquatic creatures. All spoonbills are long-legged wading birds.

Species Specifics

The African spoonbill's long legs and thin, pointed toes help it walk easily through the varying depths of water and mud in search of prey.They are recognized by their long spatulate bills, bare red face and legs, and white plumage. The bill is bluish gray with a fringe of red along the edge of the bill.

Physical Characteristics

African spoonbills have large, flat, spatulate bills and feed by wading through shallow water, sweeping the partially opened bill from side to side. Any touch by an aquatic animal will cause the bill to snap shut.Its long, bare legs are adapted to wade through its preferred habitat.



Large, shallow, inland waters such as lakes, marshes, flood plains, and reservoirs


Habitats: Found mostly in the Eastern United States, Box Turtles occur as far north as Michigan and Maine, South to Florida, and as far West as Texas and Kansas. Found rarely above 1,000 feet in elevation, preferring low land habitats where water collects. Commonly associated with deciduous forests having high leaf litter and moisture these turtles are often located near rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and other bodies of fresh water, however, they are not good swimmers.


Spoonbill diet consists of small fish and aquatic invertebrates

Ecological Web

Adult African spoonbills are not commonly preyed upon. Chicks and eggs are vulnerable to nest predators such as crows, vultures, snakes, and mammals.Spoonbills help control populations of invertebrates and small fish.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

It is diurnal, feeding on small fish and invertebrates and likely makes nomadic movements in response to local rainfall and habitat availability rather than seasonal migrations.


It nests colonially with other bird species., roosting in trees or reed beds, and rests along the shores of inland shallow waters, sometimes in large numbers of up to 1000.

Social Behavior

This shy and alert bird is usually found in small groups. It is generally silent with an occasional grunt if alarmed.

Reproductive Behavior

Mainly monogamous, nesting in colonies of 5-20, occasionally up to 200 pairs. Other water birds will frequently join them. Nests are solely built by the female, with nesting material carried in by the male. The nest is a flat, oval structure made of sticks, reeds, and twigs; sometimes lined with grass and leaves. The nest is typically placed on a partially submerged tree or bushes and reeds along the waters edge.It lays 3-5 eggs and is incubated by both parents. Chicks are fed by both parents; by regurgitation.


Chicks start wandering around the nest from 21 days old and leave the nest at 5 weeks.



Some areas are threatened by the draining of wetlands


Due to a widespread, consistent and persistent decline of the species, the ICUN considers the Box Turtle to be a Vulnerable Species. The decline is associated with anthropogenic causes, or manmade causes centering on urbanization. Agricultural use of pesticides within a shared water shed has negatively impacted young turtle survivability due to malformed eggs. Introduction of synanthopic predator species, (species who live near and benefit mutually from human settlement and urban habitats) such as ravens, coyotes and raccoons, are increasing in numbers as humans continue to urbanize.

Current Threats

Habitat Loss

Our Role

No items found.

How You Can Help

Please be aware of the pets you choose to buy. Never get a pet that has been taken from the wild and never return a pet to the wild. Be aware of pesticide applications so as to not poison native animals that benefit your ecosystem. Finally, be conscious of your trash and waste so as to not attract unwanted animals such as ravens.

Fascinating Facts

The inside of the spatula-shaped bill reacts to touch.

Chicks are born with a short bill, that gradually develops into its spoon-like shape by the time its 30 days old.

Swahili name: Domomwiko.

Follows animals that stir up water


Birdlife International