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Common Name : Spoonbill     -       Scientific Name : Platalea leucorodia       -       Other Name : Handialawa (S), Eurasian Spoonbill (E)
Maradanmaduwa
09/30/2012
Maradanmaduwa
09/30/2012
Maradanmaduwa
09/30/2012
Maradanmaduwa
09/30/2012

This is an uncommon breeding resident found in the dry lowlands. It has a wide global range and is found from the United Kingdom and Spain in Europe to Japan and is also found in North Africa. Most northern populations migrate to the

tropics during winter whereas the southern populations such as the birds in Sri Lanka are resident throughout the year. Birds from countries such as the Netherlands, Span, Hungary and Austria migrate to Africa. This species was locally extinct from the United Kingdom but the efforts made in the beginning of the 21st century to re-introduce them resulted in a small breeding colony of 8 pairs establishing a nesting colony in Norfolk. Three subspecies have been recognized P.l.leucorodia is the nominate race which occupies most of the range including Sri Lanka. P.l.balsaci is found in Mauritania and P.l.archeri in the coasts of the Red Sea and Somalia.

The conservation status of the species under reference is regarded as “Least Concerned” (National Red List 2012).
This is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

This is an interesting water bird that is often seen resting close to large secluded water bodies with its beak tucked under its wings. They feed by wading in shallow water with their beaks partly opened and moving the head quite fast in a semi-circular motion. Some times flock of 30- 40 birds will move together feeding in this manner. Any small aquatic animal that comes between its mandibles is instantly detected by its sensitive beak and swallowed.

On the west coast I have seen this species at Anawilundawa where they breed along with the other water birds such as Openbills, White Ibis, Cormorants, Herons and Egrets. They can be observed at localities such as Mannar, Devil’s Point, Jaffna Peninsula, and Elephant Pass in the north. On the east coast I have seen them at localities such as Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Akkaraipattu, Potuwil, Panama, Kandakadu, Ampara, Kumana, Yala Bundala and Kalametiya up to about Tangalle. They are found in small numbers in the large water bodies of all the inland dry zone National Parks such as Udawalawa, Galoya, Minneriya, Wasgomuwa, Lunugamvehera and Kaudulla. I have never seen them even in the lower hills.

These birds are by no means common in Wilpattu and most of the time few birds can be occasionally seen during a game drive. However during the dry season between August and September flocks of up to 40 birds may be seen at Maradanmaduwa, Borupan Wila and Thimbiri Wila.