Spoonbill (Royal) Platalea regia
Species: P. regia
Binominal name: Platalea regia
Common name: Royal Spoonbill, Kotuku ngutu papa, Kotuku-nutupapa.
Platalea regia is a native bird of Australia but has now settled in New Zealand in increasing numbers. It is found mainly the South Island. The P. regia is now considered to be a native to New Zealand and is fully protected.
Platalea regia is a wading bird 77 cm tall and a weight of about 1700g. It is a pure white bird with a long black spoon shaped bill and its legs are black. In breeding it develops drooping plumes at the back of its head. It long legs are suitable for walking through water and its spoon-shaped bill allows it to feed by sweeping its bill from side to side. Its food is aquatic life such as on insects, shellfish, small fish and frogs. They feed day or night, whenever the tide is right. They nests in trees, marshes or reed-beds.
They were known to the Maori as kotuku ngutu papa, the board billed kotuku, and so must have been visitors to New Zealand before European recordings.
Platalea regia Is a rare visitor to New Plymouth. A single bird was reported in May 2009 at New Plymouth’s port and during May 2013 at the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho River. It is thought that these birds were making their way to to Mokau area where seven are known to winter over in the estuary there.
For more information visit: http://www.birdingwestcoast.co.nz/birding/Birdingdetail/index.cfm/species/57/