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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

African Spoonbill

Afrikaans name: Lepelaar

African Spoonbill at Durban Botanic Gardens

Photo © Steven Herbert

Platalea alba

As its name implies this bird is found widely across Africa, including South Africa.

The African Spoonbill favours marshy quiet stretches of water where it may be seen hunting for its prey.

The spoon-shaped bill is used to hunt prey. It sways it back and forth in the water until it senses something which it then catches. Its food includes frogs, fish, insects and crustaceans.

African Spoonbills make a nest out of sticks either in a tree or reedbed. It nests in colonies sometimes with other species. The female lays up to 5 eggs. Both parents tend to the eggs and young.

Male and females look the same. Immature African Spoonbills lack the red colouring on the face.

Juvenile African Spoonbill

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - Juvenile African Spoonbills lack the red colouration on their bare skin and their bills are not fully developed.

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References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 166

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 8

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Year Published: - Page: 33

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 10

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 34

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 408

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 75

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 76

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 58

List of South African Birds

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