Eurasian spoonbill

This bird is unmistakable for its namesake, spoon-shaped bill

Frank Vassen

The Eurasian Spoonbill is an elegant waterbird recognizable by its unique spoon-shaped bill. This distinctive feature is more than just a physical characteristic; it is a highly specialized tool that allows the Spoonbill to feed efficiently in its watery habitat.

These birds are found across a broad range stretching from Europe to Asia and even into parts of Africa. Their habitat selection is varied, including shallow freshwater and wetlands, which provide ample feeding opportunities. During the winter, they migrate to more temperate coastal regions where tidal creeks, deltas, and estuaries become their preferred foraging grounds.

The Eurasian Spoonbill’s bill is unusual in shape and color, signaling the bird’s breeding status. During the breeding season, the bill takes on a vibrant orange hue, while outside of this period, it appears more yellowish. The bill has sensitive nerve endings that help the bird detect prey in murky waters. This tactile feeding technique involves the Spoonbill walking through shallow water, sweeping its partially open bill from side to side, and snapping it shut when it feels potential prey.

The diet of the Eurasian Spoonbill consists mainly of aquatic insects, small fish, crustaceans, and amphibians. Their feeding strategy allows them to capture multiple small prey on a single pass, making them efficient foragers.

Socially, Eurasian Spoonbills are known to form large breeding colonies, often sharing these areas with other waterbird species. Within these colonies, they exhibit cooperative behaviors, such as mutual preening, strengthening social bonds, and maintaining feather conditions. They build substantial nests out of reeds and twigs, typically in trees, bushes, or islands.

Monogamous by nature, pairs of Eurasian Spoonbills share parental duties, from nest construction to incubation and feeding of the young. The chicks are born altricial, meaning they depend entirely on their parents for warmth and food. Both the male and female spoonbills are attentive parents, ensuring the survival of their offspring in the vulnerable early stages of life.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2016
Passage
Albania
2016
Algeria
2016
Armenia
2016
Austria
2016
Breeding
Azerbaijan
2016
Bahrain
2016
Non-Breeding
Bangladesh
2016
Belarus
2016
Seasonality Uncertain
Belgium
2016
Bosnia And Herz.
2016
Breeding
Brazil
2016
Vagrant
Bulgaria
2016
Burkina Faso
2016
Vagrant
Cameroon
2016
Vagrant
Cape Verde
2016
Chad
2016
China
2016
Croatia
2016
Cyprus
2016
Czechia
2016
Breeding
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2016
Vagrant
Denmark
2016
Djibouti
2016
Egypt
2016
Eritrea
2016
Ethiopia
2016
Faroe Islands
2016
Vagrant
Finland
2016
Vagrant
France
2016
Gambia
2016
Germany
2016
Breeding
Greece
2016
Greenland
2016
Vagrant
Guinea-Bissau
2016
Hong Kong
2016
Hungary
2016
Iceland
2016
Vagrant
India
2016
Iran
2016
Iraq
2016
Breeding
Ireland
2016
Non-Breeding
Israel
2016
Passage
Italy
2016
Japan
2016
Jordan
2016
Passage
Kazakhstan
2016
Breeding
Kenya
2016
Korea
2016
Kuwait
2016
Kyrgyzstan
2016
Passage
Latvia
2016
Vagrant
Lebanon
2016
Passage
Libya
2016
Luxembourg
2016
Vagrant
Maldives
2016
Vagrant
Mali
2016
Malta
2016
Mauritania
2016
Moldova
2016
Breeding
Mongolia
2016
Breeding
Montenegro
2016
Morocco
2016
Myanmar
2016
Nepal
2016
Netherlands
2016
Niger
2016
Vagrant
Nigeria
2016
Vagrant
North Korea
2016
Non-Breeding
North Macedonia
2016
Norway
2016
Vagrant
Oman
2016
Pakistan
2016
Poland
2016
Vagrant
Portugal
2016
Qatar
2016
Romania
2016
Russia
2016
Breeding: Eastern Asian Russia
Russia
2016
Vagrant: Central Asian Russia
Saudi Arabia
2016
Senegal
2016
Serbia
2016
Slovakia
2016
Breeding
Slovenia
2016
Somalia
2016
South Sudan
2016
Spain
2016
Vagrant: Canary Is.
Sri Lanka
2016
Non-Breeding
Sudan
2016
Sweden
2016
Vagrant
Switzerland
2016
Syria
2016
Taiwan
2016
Tajikistan
2016
Thailand
2016
Trinidad & Tobago
2016
Vagrant
Tunisia
2016
Non-Breeding
Turkey
2016
Turkmenistan
2016
Breeding
UAE
2016
Uganda
2016
Vagrant
Ukraine
2016
Breeding
United Kingdom
2016
Uzbekistan
2016
Breeding
Yemen
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No