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Eurasian Spoonbill.jpg

Spoonbill ( Platalea leucorodia )

Class : Birds (aves)
Order : Pelecaniformes
Family : Ibises and spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
Genre : Spoonbill ( Platalea )
Type : Spoonbill
Scientific name
Platalea leucorodia
Linnaeus , 1758

The spoonbill ( Platalea leucorodia ), also spoonbills called, is a species of bird in the family of ibises and spoonbills (Threskiornithidae).

In Central Europe the spoonbill is a local breeding and summer bird, the population of which has increased significantly in recent years. A significant area expansion can be observed in northwest Central Europe. Away from the breeding areas, it is a rare migrant.


The spoonbill wears white plumage , which shows a delicate yellowish tinge, except for a yellow patch on the chest, on the head it is tinted orange-brown. At the back of his head he wears a tuft of long feathers, which he spreads out into a fan-shaped crown when he is excited. It reaches 80 cm in length. The legs are black, the beak is light in the young, while the old animals have a black beak with a yellowish tip. The neck is stretched in flight.

Confusion possibilities exist with the African Spoonbill ( Platalea alba ), but who, unlike the Eurasian spoonbill red legs and a red facial skin.

distribution and habitat

Distribution of the spoonbill in Europe

The distribution area of ​​the spoonbill extends from southern, western and central Europe, western Asia , north-east Africa and the Caspi region via western India to eastern Asia . Two thirds of the world population is found in the Western Palearctic .

In Central Europe, the distribution area was limited to a few colonies in the Netherlands, Hungary and Slovakia for a long time. Since the 1990s, the species has settled in eastern Austria and the Czech Republic, where it used to be part of the breeding bird population. The spoonbill has resettled in Germany and in some areas of Western Europe. In the Netherlands and Germany, spoonbills usually breed on islands, which is due to the fact that there is less loss by predation there . The red fox and ermine are essential predators .

Spoonbills are obligatory migratory birds whose winter quarters range from the Mediterranean to the Sahel as well as Sudan and Ethiopia. The spoonbills that breed in Lower Saxony move from August and September via western France to the Atlantic coast and then move via Gibraltar to West Africa. Before they cross the Mediterranean, around 94 percent of all Western European spoonbills take a break on the Costa de la Luz . The winter quarters of the breeding birds of the Netherlands and Spain are on the coast of Mauritania, in the Senegal Delta and even further south. The breeding birds of Austria and Hungary migrate via Italy to Tunisia or via Greece to the Nile Delta. Breeding birds in Spain return to their breeding grounds as early as January, while those in the Netherlands usually return towards the end of March.

The spoonbill's habitat are swamps and silting areas with reeds, typical floodplain vegetation and individual bushes. The foraging takes place in shallow water. Outside the breeding season, the spoonbill can also be seen very often on the coast of the sea or in dunes and salt marshes .

Way of life

When looking for food

The spoonbill breeds socially in swamps, breaks and floodplains, and in Africa also on bare islands. He makes the nests low in the reeds, but sometimes he also chooses trees or even cliffs.

Some spoonbill colonies are also located in the vicinity of large gull colonies. These form an additional source of food (eggs, chicks), while the seagulls do not dare to approach the young spoonbills.

It feeds on fish , frogs and other aquatic animals. In the Wadden Sea , the spoonbill can often be seen eating by "straining". The bird swings its head back and forth, filtering its food from the shallow water.


Young spoonbills in the nest, East Frisia
Egg ( Museum Wiesbaden Collection )

The IUCN estimates the total population of the spoonbill at 58,000 to 59,000 animals. The species is considered "not endangered".

In Europe, the spoonbill was always restricted to individual breeding areas, some of which were far apart. These were partly lost in the course of the 20th century due to construction and drainage. At Lake Neusiedl , for example, a decline in grazing and a drying out of the shallow water areas played a role. In the Netherlands, the decline in stocks is attributed to pesticide pollution in coastal waters, in the Volga Delta to pollution of food waters . Permanently too high water levels also lead to a decline in spoonbill populations.

The decline in the spoonbill population continues in some cases to this day. In Greece, Albania, Romania, Ukraine and the European part of Russia, the above factors are significant. At the same time, there are also positive developments. In Hungary, for example, the population is increasing significantly, with an increase in fish ponds playing a role. In the fishing industry practiced in Hungary, the ponds are drained in spring, which has led to an improvement in the food supply for the spoonbill. The breeding colonies on Lake Neusiedl, which had since become extinct, have been repopulated after a rise in water again led to more extensive shallow water zones. After a partially exponential increase in the population in the Netherlands, Lower Saxony was settled in 1996 and Denmark in the same year. Since 1999 there have also been breeding birds in Schleswig-Holstein. In 2003 there were a total of 103 breeding pairs in Germany, in 2019 there were already 1023. In 2017, 100 pairs were breeding in Südfall alone . In 2001 Great Britain was repopulated by spoonbills and the first brood occurred in Belgium in 2002.


There are three known subspecies:

  • Platalea leucorodia leucorodia Linnaeus , 1758 - The nominate form occurs from Europe to northern China , India and Sri Lanka .
  • Platalea leucorodia balsaci Naurois & Roux , 1974 - This subspecies occurs in western Mauritania .
  • Platalea leucorodia archeri Neumann , 1928 - This subspecies is common on the coasts of the Red Sea and in Somalia .

supporting documents

Web links

Commons : Löffler ( Platalea leucorodia )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Hans-Günther Bauer, Einhard Bezzel and Wolfgang Fiedler (eds.): The compendium of birds in Central Europe: Everything about biology, endangerment and protection. Volume 1: Nonpasseriformes - non-sparrow birds. Aula-Verlag Wiebelsheim, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-89104-647-2 .
  • G. Mauersberger: Urania animal kingdom. Birds 1st edition. 1995, ISBN 3-332-00500-6 .
  • Carl von Linné: Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis . 10th edition. tape 1 . Imprensis Direct Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm 1758 ( online [accessed January 18, 2016]).
  • René Paulin Jacobé de Naurois, Francis Roux: Précisions concernant la morphologie, les affinités et la position systematique de quelques oiseaux du Banc d'Arguin (Mauritanie) . In: L'Oiseau et la revue française d'ornithologie . tape 44 , 1974, pp. 72-84 .
  • Oscar Rudolph Neumann: New Forms of Northeast and East Africa . In: Journal of Ornithology . tape 76 , no. 4 , 1928, pp. 783-787 , doi : 10.1007 / BF01923578 .

Single receipts

  1. a b c d e Bauer et al., P. 246.
  2. More than 15,000 spoonbills on Chiclana's beaches
  3. For the first time over 1,000 spoonbill breeding pairs in Germany , press release, Lower Saxony State Office for Water Management, Coastal Protection and Nature Conservation , August 29, 2019.
  4. Christel Grave: Breeding report from our protected and census areas in 2017 . In: SEEBÖGEL . tape 39 , issue 1, March 2018, ISSN  0722-2947 , p. 4-7 .
  5. ^ IOC World Bird List Storks, ibis & herons
  6. Carl von Linné, p. 139.
  7. René Paulin Jacobé de Naurois u. a., p. 77.
  8. Oscar Rudolph Neumann, p. 783.