What do spoonbills eat?

I was asked this question during the week. This is one bird that is easy to identify because of the shape of the bill. We have 2 species in Australia, Yellow-billed Spoonbill and the slightly smaller Royal Spoonbill which has a black bill.

They feed in shallow water, moving the bill through the water to detect small fish, tadpoles, molluscs, frogs, crustaceans and insects. The sides of the flat spoon like end of the bill are serrated and very sensitive so it can detect food floating past.  The water escapes through the serrations before the food is swallowed.

Spoonbills also move their bill through soft mud and eat tubers and bulbs from water plants. Because the birds don’t need good eyesight to catch their food you may sometimes see them feeding at night.

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