Bird of the week – Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia

The Royal Spoonbill is a water bird. It is usually seen walking in shallow water looking for food. Its call is a grunt, growl or soft honk.

What the Royal Spoonbill looks like

The Royal Spoonbill is 74-81 cm in length. It has white feathers. Both males and females have long white plumes on the back of the neck in the breeding season. The Royal Spoonbill has a black spoon-shaped beak, red eyes with yellow ‘eyebrows’, and black legs and feet.

Where the Royal Spoonbill lives

The Royal Spoonbill lives in northern and eastern Australia. It also lives in Indonesia, New Guinea and New Zealand. It is found in freshwater and saltwater lagoons and marshes, mudflats and wet grasslands.

What the Royal Spoonbill eats

The Royal Spoonbill eats fishes, shrimps, crabs and insects. It finds food by sweeping its open beak from side to side in shallow water.

How the Royal Spoonbill breeds

Royal Spoonbills form pairs during the breeding season and nest in colonies.

The adults breed from spring to autumn. The female sits on a branch and when she allows a male to nibble her beak, they become a pair. They mate.

The female lays two to four eggs in a bowl-shaped nest of sticks in a tree or in tall reeds. Both parents sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after about three and a half weeks. Both parents feed them.

The chicks fly after about seven weeks. They are fed by their parents for a few weeks after flying. They grow into breeding adults.

Flying birds

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