Sugar, the royal spoonbill
Also called black-billed spoonbill
Greetings from Sugar the royal spoonbill. I am one of the regular visitors to Calamvale Creek in Brisbane, Australia.
Like a number of the large aquatic birds here, I fly to different wetlands looking for the best food source. But I do come to the creek here occasionally to see how the fishing is.
I don't like a lot of disturbance, particularly when breeding, and have seen a number of suitable habitats destroyed by land-clearing and weed intrusion. I have benefited from artificial wetlands, because if they are well thought out they can provide a good environment for me to raise my chicks.
Here's my bill
The feature that distinguishes spoonbills from other similar large white birds, such as egrets and ibises, is of course our bill.
My black bill is about 20 centimetres (8 inches) long, and it widens to a spoon shape at the tip. See the photo at left.
My bill is able to detect prey as soon as it touches, so I feed by wading slowly in shallow water swishing my bill from side to side.
I feed mainly on fish in freshwater wetlands, but enjoy shrimp and other aquatic animals when I go tidal flats. As I rely on touch to get my meals, I can even feed in muddy water.
Who are my friends?
There is one particular little pied cormorant at Calamvale Creek that seems to be in love with me. He follows me around, and displays his wings to assure me his armpits smell like fish. You can see him showing off in the photo above.
There he is again in the photo at right. I told him I was going fishing and he said, “I'll come too!”
He's only about two-thirds of my size, but he obviously likes tall women. What can you say to an adoring fan like that!
How do I build my nest?
During breeding season, October to April, I have long plumes at the back of my head.
I prefer to build my large dish-shaped nest out of sticks, and place it in a leafy tree overhanging the water.
I reuse the nest year after year, and lay two to four large spotted white eggs. Both sexes incubate the eggs and look after the chicks when they hatch in 21 days.
If I am threatened at my nest, I will puff myself out to look much larger and more threatening than I really am. Then I crouch over the eggs to protect them.
— Sugar the royal spoonbill