Family Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)

Least Concern

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)


French: Spatule d’Afrique German: Afrikanischer Löffler Spanish: Espátula africana

Platalea alba


, 1786,

Luzon, Philippines; error = Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Recent molecular study indicates that this species is sister to a clade formed by P. leucorodia, P. minor and P. regia#R. Monotypic.


Senegal E to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and S to Western Cape (South Africa); also Madagascar.

Descriptive notes

90–91 cm; c. 1790 g. Unmistakable; only white Platalea with intense pink red legs. Short crest. Male slightly larger. No seasonal variation. Immature has more... read more


Usually silent away from nest, but occasionally utters guttural grunts or a double quack "aark-ark... read more


Lakes, marshes, reservoirs and other large, shallow inland waters; less often in coastal lagoons,... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly consumes small fish and aquatic invertebrates. However, the main food brought to chicks at a colony in the Free State, South Africa... read more


From West Africa east to Sudan laying peaks in the dry season. Nests with eggs or young may be found at the Senegal delta, Mauritania... read more


Little known. It is probably nomadic throughout most of range, moving in response to local rainfall... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The global population size is unknown but it is thought to fall within the range of 10,000–100,000 birds in continental Africa... read more

Recommended citation

Matheu, E., del Hoyo, J., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2018). African Spoonbill (Platalea alba). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 15 November 2018).