Family Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)


Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor)


French: Petite Spatule German: Schwarzgesichtlöffler Spanish: Espátula menor

Platalea minor

Temminck and Schlegel

, 1849,



Recent molecular study indicates that present species and P. regia are closely related, with P. leucorodia as their sister#R. Monotypic.


Breeding currently known only from NE Russia (S Primorsky Krai)#R, N & S Korea, and NE China (Liaoning; suspected elsewhere in NE China). Winters in Vietnam, S China, Hainan and Taiwan, occasionally in Japan; recent records from Thailand, Philippines, Macau and inland China#R. Formerly more widespread breeder in E Asia, range now much reduced.

Descriptive notes

60–78·5 cm; 1228 g; wingspan 110 cm. Differs from P. leucorodia (with which sometimes forages in winter) in smaller size, facial pattern (black skin... read more


Generally silent, but during breeding season gives guttural “ubuu ubuu”.


Marshes, wet rice fields, mangroves, fish ponds, tidal mudflats and estuaries. Nests on small... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly fish (up to 20 cm in length), shellfish, insects and crustaceans, including crabs and shrimps; 19 species of fish and six shrimp... read more


Overall season Mar–Aug. Laying recorded in Jul in Korea and NE China, but latter at least were second clutches; chicks from first... read more


Migratory; arrives in Korea in Mar, and sometimes departs as late as Nov, though immatures may... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Previously regarded as Critically Endangered, but since downlisted. Population currently considered by BirdLife International to be stable at c. 1600 mature... read more

Recommended citation

Matheu, E., del Hoyo, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor). 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 19 July 2019).