Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) Bai pilu


(84 cm.) Large; white; long, grey spatulate bill; naked skin on head; black face line

The Eurasian Spoonbill is named quite apparently so, for its flat spoon-shaped bill which it sweeps through the water in its aquatic habitats to scoop up is food. Although it appears very similar to herons and egrets, it is not closely related to them, and is included in a completely separate family. It is a member of the family, “Threskiornithidae”. This family is divided into two groups, the ibises and the spoonbills.

This species is found in southern Eurasia from Spain to Japan. It is also found in North Africa. It is the most widespread of spoonbill species. The Eurasian Spoonbill is not a common bird in China, so the sight of this oddly beautiful bird is always a thrill. It breeds in the extreme northeast of the country, generally limited to the provinces that constitute “dongbei”. It is found during migrations along the East Coast of the country, and in winter in the south. Flocks of over 1000 Eurasian Spoonbill spend winter in Jiangsu on Poyang Lake.

All spoonbills feed by wading in shallow water. They sweep their bills from side to side through the water, snapping them shut when an aquatic animal such as an insect, fish or crustacean makes contact with the bill. Spoonbills spend many hours every day in their food gathering activities. These birds will feed in both freshwater and saltwater environments.

Spoonbills are monogamous during the breeding season, but they may choose new mates from year to year. They nest in colonies with other long-legged wading birds such as herons and ibises. Their nests are platforms of sticks situated in trees or reed beds which are generally built by the males.

The female Eurasian Spoonbill generally lays 3 eggs, and the newly-hatched chicks emerge with straight bills lacking the familiar spoon shape. Both parents will feed the chicks by regurgitation.

Photo by Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.de

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