Family Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)


French: Spatule blanche German: Löffler Spanish: Espátula común

Platalea Leucorodia


, 1758,

Europe; restricted to Sweden


Recent molecular study indicates that this species is sister to a group formed by P. minor and P. regia#R. In past, occasionally treated as conspecific with latter. A DNA-based study found significant genetic variation in Mauritania between local breeding population (race balsaci) and wintering Dutch population (nominate)#R. Asian populations have been assigned separate race, major, but this considered doubtfully valid. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. l. leucorodia Linnaeus, 1758 – S Spain and locally in WC, SC & SE Europe E to C & E Asia, extending S to Persian Gulf, India and Sri Lanka; winters in W & E Africa and SE China.
  • P. l. balsaci de Naurois & Roux, 1974 – islands off coast of Mauritania (Banc d’Arguin).
  • P. l. archeri Neumann, 1928 – coasts of Red Sea and Somalia.
  • Descriptive notes

    70–95 cm; 1130–1960 g; wingspan 115–135 cm. Male somewhat larger, with longer bill and legs. Extent of yellow at base of neck variable, from only small... read more


    Usually silent away from breeding colonies, but occasionally gives a short, upslurred slightly... read more


    Frequents shallow, usually extensive wetlands; including marshes, rivers, large waterbodies and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Largely carnivorous, taking adults and larvae of water beetles, dragonflies, caddisflies, locusts, flies and other insects; also molluscs,... read more


    A spring breeder in N of range, laying mainly from Apr in Spain, but occasionally in winter (Jan–Feb). Breeding season variable on... read more


    Palearctic birds of nominate race migratory and dispersive. Migrants may travel at considerable... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Global population estimated at 66,000–140,000 birds, the great majority being of the nominate subspecies. Breeding... read more

    Recommended citation

    Matheu, E., del Hoyo, J., Christie, D.A., Garcia, E.F.J., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia). 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 22 January 2020).