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5

Yellow-billed Spoonbill

(Platalea flavipes)
Alternate name(s): "Yellow-legged Spoonbill"
Size: 75-90 cm

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Yellow-billed Spoonbill at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

BREEDING

Close-up near-frontal view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in partial breeding plumage feeding in murky water
[Tiger Bay wetlands, Warren, NSW, April 2017

Close-up lateral view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in breeding plumage (note the spiny feathers and black tendrils) roosting in a dead tree in a swamp
[Yarrie Lake, NSW, August 2013]

Lateral view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in breeding plumage on a river bank
[Narrabri, NSW, February 2008]

Close-up lateral view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in partial breeding plumage
[Tiger Bay wetlands, Warren, NSW, April 2017

Near-dorsal view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

This Yellow-billed Spoonbill already had its breeding plumage in June 2011, in the middle of winter in inland NSW
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2011]

Dorsal view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2011]

This Yellow-billed Spoonbill was seen just before touchdown
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2011]

NON-BREEDING

Near-frontal view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in non-breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2011]

Lateral view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in non-breeding; note the dull colours of the facial mask and the scarcity of hackles and tendrils plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2011]

Dorsal view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Herdsman Lake, Perth, WA, August 2015]

Dorsal view of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in non-breeding plumage, now with a friendly smile for the photographer (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Herdsman Lake, Perth, WA, August 2015]

Three Yellow-billed Spoonbills roosting together with one Royal Spoonbill
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, May 2013]

Yellow-billed Spoonbill in non-breeding plumage gliding above water
[Near Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Direct comparison between a Yellow-billed Spoonbill (front right) and a Royal Spoonbill, both in non-breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2011]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Here what looks like a family of Yellow-billed Spoonbills, with three dependants, and a Royal Spoonbill on the right; note the absence of a facial mask in the young Yellow-billed Spoonbills
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2011]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Nov Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 20 - 25 days Fledging age: ca. 30 - 40 days

Given the right conditions, Yellow-billed Spoonbills can breed any time of the year. The breeding season depends on geographic latitude. In the tropical north it peaks around March-May, whereas elsewhere it peaks around August-November.

Nest building: Male & female? Incubation: Male & female Dependent care: Male & female

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, twigs, bark Height above ground: 0 - 20 m

Yellow-billed Spoonbills nest in freshwater wetlands.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill on its nest at Whittaker's Lagoon near Moree, NSW (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 71 x 45 mm Colour: Creamy white Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Pair/family

When the water depth is right, Yellow-billed Spoonbills can often be seen sifting through shallow water in small groups
[Near Narrabri, NSW, December 2014]

Food, Diet

Yellow-billed Spoonbills feed on small animals, such as crustacians, snails and insects, but also fish, caught in their bill while sifting through shallow water.

Here a Yellow-billed Spoonbill seen feeding in a shallow lake
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2011]

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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