Genus III.--Platalea, Linn. Spoonbill

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


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Bill very long, excessively depressed, being, when viewed laterally, very slender; but, when seen from above, nearly as broad as the head at the base, considerably contracted in the middle, and at the end expanded into a large obovate disk much broader than the head; upper mandible with the dorsal line almost straight, at the tip decurved, the ridge extremely broad and flat, gradually widening beyond the nostrils, at the end terminated by the very small, decurved, blunt unguis, the sides declinate at the base, horizontally flattened towards the end, separated in their whole length from the ridge by a narrow groove, their margins soft and blunt; lower mandible with the angle very long, narrow, rounded, the coma narrow, and gradually flattened, the extremity expanded into a flattened disk, as in the upper; both mandibles covered with soft skin, which, for half their length, is rough, with roundish plates, having their anterior margin somewhat prominent. Nostrils basal, oblong-linear, of moderate size. Head of moderate size, flattened above; neck long and slender, body compact, ovate; legs long and rather stout; tibia bare in its lower half, and reticulate; tarsus rather long, stout, roundish, covered all round with sub-hexagonal scales; toes rather long, moderately stout, scutellate, at the base reticulate; first more slender, articulated at the same level, second considerably shorter than third. Claws moderate, arched, compressed, laterally grooved, rather obtuse. Head, gular sac, and a small part of neck, destitute of feathers. Wings long and very broad, the second quill longest. Tail short, even, of twelve rather broad feathers. Tongue extremely small, broader than long; gular sac dilatable; oesophagus wide, with a dilatation at the lower part of the neck; proventriculus bulbiform; stomach a powerful gizzard, roundish, with large muscular fasciculi not disposed into distinct muscles, the epithelium very thick, longitudinally fissured; intestine very long, of moderate width; coeca two slight knobs.

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