Interspecific Spooning

First case of natural hybridization between two spoonbills, documented in South Korea.

Hybrids between different spoonbill species (family Threskiornithidae) have only been observed in captivity. For example, the International Zoo Yearbook of 1984 reports hybrids between a Roseate (Platalea ajaja) and a Eurasian (P. leucorodia) spoonbill and between an African (P. alba) and a Eurasian spoonbill.

In a recent paper in the journal Waterbirds, Korean researchers describe the first natural hybridization event between different spoonbill species. On a small breeding island in Incheon, a male Eurasian spoonbill paired up with two female Black-faced spoonbills (P. minor) during different breeding seasons (2012-2013 and 2014-2015). In total, eleven eggs were laid, producing nine healthy hybrids.



Male Eurasian spoonbill on the nest, visited by his female companion, a Black-faced spoonbill. Picture taken in Gaksiam, Incheon, South Korea (from: Kwon et al. 2017).



Kwon, I.-K., Lee, K.-S., Lee, J.-Y., Park, J.-H. & Yoo, J.-C. (2017). Hybridization between the Black-Faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) and Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) in South Korea. Waterbirds 40, 77-81.