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Spoonbill

Platalea leucorodia Linnaeus, 1758

Platalea leucorodius L.: Finsch, 1859: 386; Platalea leucorodea Linn.: Hristovich, 1890: 219.

Order Ciconiiformes

Family Threskiornithidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Critically endangered CR=[B1a+B2a+D], BDA-II, III (I); International: IUCN,CITES-II, BeC-II, BoC-II, ESC-Spec 2, BD-I.

General distribution. Species of the Old World. It breeds in Spain, the Netherlands, Hungary, the countries of the Balkan Peninsula, the Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Hindustan, Sri Lanka, Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia. It winters along the coasts of Africa, Hindustan, Sri Lanka, China.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant, as an exception a wintering species. In the past it was reported only for the water basins near the Danube [1], in the Sofia Valley and the Straldzha Swamp, and in 1938 it bred in Mandrensko Lake [2]. In the middle of the 20th century known only from Srebarna Lake [3]. Until the 1980s it bred along the shores of the Danube and the Black Sea but during the breeding period it was also found in the swamps in the regions of Sofia and the town of Samokov and the Straldzha Swamp, in the swamp near the village of Popina (Silistra region), the village of General Kolevo (Varna region), the Poda locality (Burgas region) [1], the Danubian island Tsibar [4, 5], in the Karnobat region [6], etc. In 1992 it bred (several tens of pairs) on Tsibar Island [5]. In 1998-2001, there were breeding colonies on Belene island (5-15 breeding pairs), Vardim (2 to several tens of breeding pairs), the Gorni Dabnik reservoir (3 pairs pairs) [7]. In 2004, 10 pairs bred in a mixed colony with herons on Golyam Bliznak island at km 777 (T. Michev, personal communication). The largest concentration of a breeding poulation is in the regions of the cities of Burgas and Pleven. The total abundance in the country amounts to 50-70 [8], 100-110 [9], 105 [10], 100-120 [11], 80-150 breeding pairs [2].

Habitats. Shallow and large lakes and marshes, riverside flooded areas in valleys and lowlands, mouths of rivers; after the breeding period various wetlands, including supersalty water basins.

Biology. It breeds in mixed colonies situated in reedbeds or massifs of White Poplars and White Willows. In the northern part of its area and in Bulgaria it lays, from April to July, 3-4 (up to 7) eggs every time, that the female incubates for 24-25 days. The young ones leave the nest at the age of 45-50 days. The lethality of the young in the nests is up to 17,2%. They reach sexual maturity at the age of 3-4 years. Food: water beetles and their larvae, dragonflies, caddisflies, grasshoppers, two-winged and other insects, small mollusks, crustaceans, worms, including leeches, frogs, small fish, water plants, green parts of higher water plants.

Similar species. None.

Negative factors. Destruction and damage of the habitats, pollution of the water basins, illegal shooting.

Conservation measures taken. The major permanent habitats are in protected natural territories.

Conservation measures needed. Inclusion of non-protected habitats in protected natural territories. Increase of nature conservation awareness. Strict control for guaranteeing the protection status of the species.

References. 1. Simeonov et al., 1990; 2. Kovachev et al., in press; 3. Patev, 1950; 4. Boev, 1990; 5. Boev, 1992; 6. Nyagolov, 2004; 7. Shurulinkov et al., 2005; 8. Michev, 1985; 9. Kostadinova, 1997; 10. Kostadinova, Mihaylov, 2002; 11. Nankinov et al., 2004.

Authors: Zlatozar Boev, Tanyo Michev


Spoonbill (distribution map)

Spoonbill (drawing)