|Genus:|| Platalea |
Spoonbills are a genus, Platalea, of large, long-legged wading birds. The spoonbills have a global distribution, being found on every continent except Antarctica. The genus name Platalea derives from Latin and means "broad", referring to the distinctive shape of the bill.Six species are recognised, which although usually placed in a single genus have sometimes been split into three genera.
All spoonbills have large, flat, spatulate bills and feed by wading through shallow water, sweeping the partly opened bill from side to side. The moment any small aquatic creature touches the inside of the bill—an insect, crustacean, or tiny fish —it is snapped shut. Spoonbills generally prefer fresh water to salt but are found in both environments. They need to feed many hours each day.
They have traditionally been thought to form one of two subfamilies, Plataleinae, in the family Threskiornithidae, which also includes the ibises (Threskiornithinae). Molecular studies, including a 2013 study, have suggested instead that they form a clade within the family with several cosmopolitan ibis genera, separate from another clade of New World ibises.
A 2010 study of mitochondrial DNA of the spoonbills by Chesser and colleagues found that the roseate and yellow-billed spoonbills were each other's closest relative, and the two were descended from an early offshoot from the ancestors of the other four spoonbill species. They felt the genetic evidence meant it was equally valid to consider all six to be classified within the genus Platalea or alternatively for two of the species to be placed in monotypic genera named as Platibis and Ajaja. However, as the six species were so similar morphologically, keeping them within the one genus made more sense.
Spoonbills are most easily distinguished from ibises in the shape of their bill, which is long and flat and wider at the end. The nostrils are located near the base of the bill so that the bird can breathe while the bill is submerged in water. The eyes are positioned to provide spoonbills with binocular vision, although, when foraging, tactile senses are important too. Like ibises, spoonbills have bare patches of skin around the bill and eyes.
Spoonbills are monogamous, but, so far as is known, only for one season at a time. 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 three smooth, oval, white eggs and both parents incubate; chicks hatch one at a time rather than all together. The newly hatched young are blind and cannot care for themselves immediately; both parents feed them by partial regurgitation. Chicks' bills are short and straight, and only gain the characteristic spoonbill shape as they mature. Their feeding continues for a few weeks longer after the family leaves the nest. The primary cause of brood failure appears not to be predation but starvation.
The six species of spoonbill are distributed over much of the world.
|Species of Platalea|
|Common and binomial names||Image||Description||Range|
| Eurasian spoonbill |
|Adults and juveniles are largely white with black outer wing-tips and dark bills and legs. Breeds in reed beds, usually without other species.||This is the most widespread species, which occurs in the northeast of Africa and much of Europe and Asia across to Japan.|
| Black-faced spoonbill |
|Closely related to Eurasian Spoonbills.||Found in Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan.|
| African spoonbill |
|A large white species similar to Eurasian spoonbill, from which it can be distinguished by its pink face and usually paler bill. Its food includes insects and other small creatures, and it nests in trees, marshes or rocks.||Breeds in Africa and Madagascar|
| Royal spoonbill |
|A large white spoonbill with a black face.||Most common in south-east Australia, but regularly found in smaller numbers on other parts of the continent when temporary wetlands form; in New Zealand, particularly the South Island, and sometimes as stragglers in New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Pacific Islands.|
| Yellow-billed spoonbill |
|A white spoonbill with a yellow colored bill.||Southeast Australia.|
| Roseate spoonbill |
|Adults are large with pink feathers.||South America, the Caribbean, and the Southeastern United States|
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The family Threskiornithidae includes 34 species of large wading birds. The family has been traditionally classified into two subfamilies, the ibises and the spoonbills; however recent genetic studies are casting doubt on the arrangement, and revealing the spoonbills to be nested within the old world ibises, and the new world ibises as an early offshoot.
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The Eurasian spoonbill, or common spoonbill, is a wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. The genus name Platalea is from Latin and means "broad", referring to the distinctive shape of the bill, and leucorodia is from Ancient Greek leukerodios "spoonbill", itself derived from leukos, "white" and erodios "heron". In England it was traditionally known as the "shovelard", a name later used for the Northern Shoveller.
The African spoonbill is a long-legged wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. The species is widespread across Africa and Madagascar, including Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The roseate spoonbill is a gregarious wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family, Threskiornithidae. It is a resident breeder in South America mostly east of the Andes, and in coastal regions of the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, the Gulf Coast of the United States, and from central Florida's Atlantic coast at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, adjoined with NASA Kennedy Space Center at least as far north as South Carolina's Myrtle Beach.
The black-faced spoonbill is a species of wading bird in the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae, found in eastern Asia. This species has the most restricted distribution of the six spoonbill species, and it is the only one regarded as endangered. Spoonbills are large water birds with dorso-ventrally flattened, spatulate bills. These birds use a tactile method of feeding, wading in the water and sweeping their beaks from side-to-side to detect prey. Confined to the coastal areas of eastern Asia, it seems that it was once common throughout its area of distribution. It currently breeds only on a few small rocky islands off the west coast of North Korea, with four wintering sites at Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam, as well as other places where they have been observed in migration. Wintering also occurs in Jeju, South Korea, Kyushu and Okinawa, Japan, and the Red River delta in Vietnam. More recently, sightings of black-faced spoonbill birds were noted in Thailand, the Philippines, and additional sites in China. They were internationally classified as an endangered species by the IUCN in 2000. Declines in their population are predicted in the future, mainly due to the amount of deforestation, pollution, and other man-made industries.
The small bird genus Geronticus belongs to the ibis subfamily (Threskiornithinae). Its name is derived from the Greek gérontos in reference to the bald head of these dark-plumaged birds; in English they are called bald ibises.
The royal spoonbill also known as the black-billed spoonbill, occurs in intertidal flats and shallows of fresh and saltwater wetlands in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. It has also been recorded as a vagrant in New Caledonia. The royal spoonbill lives in wetlands and feeds on crustaceans, fish and small insects by sweeping its bill from side to side. It always flies with its head extended. Widespread throughout its large range, the royal spoonbill is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The yellow-billed spoonbill is a gregarious wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family, Threskiornithidae. It is native to Australia, and is a vagrant to New Zealand, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.
The green ibis, also known as the Cayenne ibis, is a wading bird in the ibis family Threskiornithidae. It is the only member of the genus Mesembrinibis.
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The plumbeous ibisTheristicus caerulescens, also formerly called the blue ibis, is a large distinctive ibis species endemic to parts of central South America.
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