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Platalea leucorodia

Spoonbill in flight

All about spoonbills

Spoonbills are relatives of ibises – long-legged birds with curved bills. Not surprisingly, they are named after their impressive spoon-like bills which are full of sensors to pinpoint the smallest movement from their prey. They swing them from side to side in the water to search for small fish, crustaceans and amphibians.

They’re a large bird, just a little smaller than a grey heron. Unlike herons and egrets, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched. In the breeding season, adults show some yellow on their chest and bill tip.

You won’t find many of these magnificent birds on our shores: the British Trust for Ornithology reckons that 10 years ago there were only about 100 in the whole country, with even fewer opting to nest here. The species is becoming a slightly more familiar sight in recent years as spoonbills expand their range further north due to climate change.⠀

Conservation status

Spoonbills are amber listed in the UK

Did you know?

Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched.

Learn about the Solent’s other wading birds.