White birds look amazing and a group of these big, white birds close to shore makes a traffic-stopping spectacle as they wave their long, flat-ended, spoon shaped, black bills through the water. They wander with their heads down, their bills sweeping the ankle-deep water for tasty bites. Despite concentrating on the business of fishing they keep an eye out for intruders and as people approach they move away.
First recorded in 1861 small flocks of these birds can now be spotted in several locations around the country, especially during the winter months.
There are only six spoonbill species and only one breeds in New Zealand, the Australian black-billed spoonbill other names are royal spoonbill and kōtuku ngutupapa. The first breeding place discovered was at Okarito on the West Coast, close to the nesting colony of white herons. It is known that they also now breed in other areas. At certain times of the year they can be seen around Auckland so look out for them when you pass tidal habitats. I have spotted them at places like Miranda, Western Springs Park and Mangawhai Estuary.
During the breeding season both male and female birds grow long feathery plumes or crests from their heads.
- Radio NZ Bird Watching – Royal Spoonbills
- NZ Birds Online royal spoonbill page
- Birdlife Australia royal spoonbill page
- Beauty of Birds royal spoonbill page