Posted by: Dan | September 30, 2009

Image of the Day – Spoonbill

Eurasian Spoonbill (Credit: Hanne & Jens Eriksen, naturepl.com)

Eurasian Spoonbill (Credit: Hanne & Jens Eriksen, naturepl.com)



Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) – A passage migrant in Cyprus, with a few seen in wetland areas every Spring and Autumn. I saw my first two of this Autumn this past Sunday.

Some background on Spoonbills:

Range: The wide but fragmented breeding range of the Eurasian Spoonbill extends from Europe to northwest Africa, the Red Sea, India and China. Wintering areas include the Atlantic coast of Europe, the Mediterranean, sub-Saharan Africa, southwest Asia, India, Sri Lanka, southern China, and Japan.

Habitat: The Eurasian Spoonbill inhabits fresh and saltwater marshes, estuaries, deltas, tidal creeks, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and mangrove swamps. It shows a particular preference for shallow wetlands with a mud, clay or fine sand bottom, as well as islands, dense reedbeds, and scattered trees and shrubs for nesting.

Biology: The Eurasian Spoonbill forages alone or in small groups, wading methodically through shallow water whilst sweeping its distinctive bill from side to side in search of prey. Small fish, aquatic insects, shrimp and other invertebrates comprise the bulk of its diet, but it will also take algae and fragments of aquatic plants, although these may just be accidentally ingested. Foraging activity generally peaks around morning and evening, except in coastal areas, where it is governed by the timing of low tide.

Threats: With the notable exception of the western European population, which appears to be increasing in size, most populations of the Eurasian Spoonbill are declining. The eastern African population is most at risk, with the remaining 750 breeding pairs (as of 2008) restricted to a single site in Mauritania, which faces an increasing risk of flooding due to sea-level rise. Furthermore, a large proportion of the juveniles at this site are killed by predators, such as jackals. Elsewhere across its range, the Eurasian Spoonbill is threatened by habitat loss and degradation, human disturbance, pollution, hunting, and exploitation of eggs.

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