The Eurasian Spoonbill or Common Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) is almost unmistakable in most of its range. The breeding bird is all white except for its dark legs, black bill with a yellow tip, and a yellow breast patch like a pelican. It has a crest in the breeding season. Non-breeders lack the crest and breast patch, and immature birds have a pale bill and black tips to the primary flight feathers. Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched. The Eurasian Spoonbill differs from the African Spoonbill with which in overlaps in winter, in that the latter species has a red face and legs, and no crest. They are mostly silent. Even at their breeding colonies the main sounds are bill snapping, occasional deep grunting and occasional trumpeting noises
Habitat and Distribution
Eurasian Spoonbills show a preference for extensive shallow, wetlands with muddy, clay or fine sandy beds. They may inhabit any type of marsh, river, lake, flooded area and mangrove swamp, whether fresh, brackish or saline, but especially those with islands for nesting or dense emergent vegetation (e.g. reedbeds) and scattered trees or srubs (especially willow Salix spp., oak Quercus spp. or poplar Populus spp.). Eurasian Spoonbills may also frequent sheltered marine habitats during the winter such as deltas, estuaries, tidal creeks and coastal lagoons. This is a Palearctic species, breeding from the United Kingdom and Spain in the west through to Japan, and also in North Africa. In Europe, only The Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Hungary and Greece have sizeable populations. Most birds migrate to the tropics in winter, with European breeders mainly going to Africa, but a few remaining in mild winter areas of western Europe south to the United Kingdom. It was extirpated from the United Kingdom but sporadic breeding attempts in the early 21st century culminated with the formation of a colony at Holkham in Norfolk in 2010. In 2011, 8 breeding pairs nested, successfully fledging 14 young.
The diet consists of aquatic insects, mollusks, newts, crustaceans, worms, leeches, frogs, tadpoles and small fish up to 10-15 cm long. It may also take algae or small fragments of aquatic plants (although these are possibly ingested accidentally with animal matter). The moment any small aquatic creature touches the inside of the bill?an insect, crustacean, or tiny fish, the bill is snapped shut.
Spoonbills are monogamous. Most species nest in trees or reed-beds, often with ibises or herons. The male gathers nesting material?mostly sticks and reeds, sometimes taken from an old nest. The female weaves it into a large, shallow bowl or platform which varies in its shape and structural integrity according to species. The female lays a clutch of about 3 smooth, oval, white eggs and both parents incubate; chicks hatch one at a time rather than all together.