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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Spoonbill



Awaiting image for this species




(Eurasian Spoonbill)

Platalea leucorodia


  • Spoonbill
  • Platalea leucorodia
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 4 breeding birds. Less than 50 wintering records a year RSPB
  • UK: Breeder, Scarce Visitor
  • WI: Very rare visitor (five or less records) TBC
  • Breeds: Lays 4 eggs. Trees or reedbeds near shallow lakes. Nests in colonies. Southern Europe, Asia, Africa
  • Winters: Mostly resident in mild climates like UK. Others migrate to tropics. European breeders that do migrate go south to Mediterranean, Africa, Asia
  • Habitat: Marshy wetlands, swamps, mudflats, lakes (winters estuaries & coastal wetland)
  • Diet: Spoon-shaped bill is feeding adaptation. Birds vigorously disturb sediment with feet then filter water by sweeping side-to-side with part-open bill which swiftly closes on contact with prey. Aquatic invertebrates, small fish, crustaceans, amphibians
  • Tall, mostly white & egret-like. Bill mostly black, flat & spoon-shaped. Breeding adult has yellow bill-tip, yellow breast-patch & long plume-like crest. Non-breeders no crest or yellow breast-patch. Juvenile bill paler & has black tips to largest feathers on the edge of wings (primaries). In flight neck & legs extended & held below the level of the body.
  • Listen to a Spoonbill (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Little Egret, Great White Egret (rare)


Spoonbills used to be widespread breeders in the UK but their habitat (marshland) was drained for agricultural use and for several centuries the last UK breeding record remained one in East Anglia in 1650.

In 1999 a pair of Spoonbills bred nested successfully in Lancashire. In 2008 a pair bred and fledged three young in Dumfries and Galloway.

There are usually about 50 records of Spoonbills in the UK each year.

Spoonbills are on Annexe 1 of the European Birds Directive, so they and their habitats now have some extra protection. Spoonbill colonies in Holland have they have expanded because of this and so have the Spoonbill's breeding range.


Spoonbill records in the Western Isles

Very rare visitor (five or less records) TBC

The chart below shows how abundant the Spoonbill is during a month or when you are more likely to see it.


















(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)


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