spoonbill, common name for a large wading bird related to the ibis. It has a long bill with a tip like a flattened spoon, with which it captures small aquatic animals. The roseate spoonbill, Ajaia ajaja, its plumage rosy pink accented with carmine on the wings and tail, is found from the Gulf states S to Argentina and Chile. In the United States it was almost exterminated for its feathers. The common spoonbill of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Platalea leucorodia, is white and crested. Other species are found in Australia, Japan, and tropical Africa. The unrelated shoveler duck is sometimes called spoonbill, and there is a spoon-billed sandpiper. Spoonbills are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Ciconiiformes, family Threskiornithidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.