European Spoonbill

Platalea leucorodia


The spoonbill is a relative of the ibises, a group of long-legged birds with curved bills. Almost as big as a grey heron, the spoonbill feeds on shrimps and other aquatic invertebrates which it catches while sweeping its bizarre, spoon-shaped bill from side to side in the water. Normally only seen in small numbers in Britain at coastal sites in the east and south-west, it mainly breeds in southern Europe and North Africa and as far east as India and China.

How to identify

A tall, white bird, the spoonbill is easily recognised by its long, black, spoon-shaped bill. During the breeding season, adults develop some yellow on their bill tip and breast along with a crest of white feathers.

Where to find it

A rare visitor, mostly to the coasts of East Anglia, southern England, South Wales and North West England.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Most populations of the European spoonbill are declining, threatened by habitat loss, pollution, human disturbance and egg collection. The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers and landowners, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
European Spoonbill
Latin name
Platalea leucorodia
Herons, egrets and spoonbill
Length: 78-85cm Wingspan: 1.2m Weight: 1.1-1.9kg
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and listed under CITES Appendix II.