It is out of the breeding season but only just, which might explain why this European Spoonbill still has a very yellow tip on its beak. I couldn’t resist taking photographs of it.
Their Portuguese name is Colhereiro, and the Algarve is one of the best places to observe them in Portugal. Although having said that numbers are declining because of habitat loss, pollution and human disturbance. Resident populations are now ‘vulnerable‘ in Portugal, and the status of those that overwinter in the Algarve has been raised to ‘near threatened’. It’s one of the reasons I repeatedly share concerns about the lack of sustainable conservation by local authorities, the ongoing developments within this protected area and also get so cross with noisy and inconsiderate walkers and boaters.
It is worth remembering if a bird flies away or makes repeated alarm calls, people are too close. Every time human activity repeatedly disturbs feeding or roosting birds, or even temporarily changes their habitat we impact on their long term future. One in five bird species in Europe is threatened by extinction; with raptors, seabirds, waders and wildfowl the fastest declining groups of birds and wetlands are one of the habitats most at risk.
Everyone should be concerned, so let me tell you a little bit more about this wonderful bird whilst they are relatively easy to spot. Spoonbills are almost as large as a grey heron, with a wingspan of around 1.2 metres. They feed on aquatic invertebrates, fish and frogs by sweeping their spoon-shaped bill from side to side, selecting their food from the swirling sediment and waters. The swirling waters are probably why they are often accompanied by an egret when feeding.
That fantastic bill also gives them their collective noun – runcible – and if you have a moment do check out some earlier posts of mine which include some great shots of runcibles of spoonbills as well as more videos and even poetry;
Aren’t they fabulous? If you agree here are a couple of ideas for what you can do to help them and other waders survive. Participate in a bird tracking project such as those run by the British Trust for Ornithology or if you see a ringed bird anywhere in Europe report it via the European Colour-Ring Birding website. Donate to or become a member of one of the many organisations who are working to protect birds and their habitats such as the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) or BirdLife International. The latter work worldwide and on their website list partners in every country if you want to help protect wetlands and waders where you live.
Listen to the Birds. People are destroying & consuming nature at a devastating rate. Birds are our early warning system.
— BirdLife International