Eurasian Spoonbill

Platalea leucorodia

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The Eurasian spoonbill is known for and named after its unmistakable and characteristic long bill. The end point widens in the form of a spoon with a yellow orange spot whereas the rest of the bill is generally flat. This type of bill is not perfectly adapted when searching for food. Instead, the spoonbill stalks through shallow waters and, in big movements, turns its head twisting it from side to side in the water. This action helps it strain or filter the water for molluscs, water insects, snails, amphibians, crabs and small fish. This bird, generally about 80 to 90 cm in size, is a member of the ibis and spoonbill family. Its feathers are white; its breeding plumage has a yellow band-like patch across the breast and a long a fanned crest of feathers that spreads outwards from a tuft on the back of its head. Its long legs and bill are almost black. Male and female birds resemble each other closely, while the male is somewhat larger. The sociable spoonbill forms breeding colonies, often alongside cormorants, and is a local European breeder and summer bird, although it is rarely observed on stopovers. The expansive nests are built on the ground, in reed beds as well as in trees and on cliffs. The clutch comprises 3 to 5 eggs laid with each annual mating season, which both parents incubate. Spoonbills live on the water; swamps and wetlands with high silt deposits and emergent reed beds, riparian vegetation and singular bushes, coastal lagoons, estuaries, tidal creeks and shallow lakes are all excellent habitats. During the non-breeding season, spoonbills can often be observed on the coast, salt marshes and dunes. Spoonbills are generally quiet birds. On occasion, it is possible to hear grunting and howling sounds from breeding grounds.

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