The Yellow Billed Spoonbill is reasonably common around the shallow waterways in south eastern Australia. These birds have global distribution, but in different species. In Australia, we have the Yellow Billed Spoonbill which is white with a yellow coloured bill. The other variety in Australia is the Royal Spoonbill which is white with a black face and bill.
Spoonbills are regarded as being monogamous but apparently for only one season at a time. They nest in trees or reed beds and are often seen with ibises or herons such as the white necked heron.
Spoonbills are most easily distinguished from ibises in the shape of their bill, which is long and flat and wider at the end. The nostrils are located near the base of the bill so that the bird can breathe while the bill is submerged in water. The eyes are positioned to provide spoonbills with binocular vision, although, when foraging, tactile senses are important too. Like ibises, spoonbills have bare patches of skin around the bill and eyes.
The male gathers nesting material—mostly sticks and reeds, sometimes taken from an old nest—the female weaves it into a large, shallow bowl or platform which varies in its shape and structural integrity according to species.
The female lays a clutch of about three smooth, oval, white eggs and both parents incubate; chicks hatch one at a time rather than all together. The newly hatched young are blind and cannot care for themselves immediately; both parents feed them by partial regurgitation. Chicks’ bills are short and straight, and only gain the characteristic spoonbill shape as they mature. Their feeding continues for a few weeks longer after the family leaves the nest. The primary cause of brood failure appears not to be predation but starvation.