Updates on Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Be sure to sign up at 10,000 Birds for your chance to win an original David Sibley painting of Spoon-billed Sandpiper – and help bird conservation efforts at the same time.

New photos of bill shape and new survey results in southeast Asia.

Jeremiah Trimble has posted a fascinating photo he took in Thailand here. It shows a Spoon-billed Sandpiper with its mouth wide open. The structure inside the spoon-shaped tip seems to be a more or less normal sandpiper bill with flat lateral extensions on either side! This is utterly unlike the bill structure of true spoonbills, and raises more questions about the function of the odd bill shape of this amazing bird.

And showing more details here is a photo by Phil Round of the underside of the bill of a Spoon-billed Sandpiper trapped for banding in Thailand several years ago.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper trapped for banding in Thailand, photo copyright Phil Round, used by permission, background modified for clarity.

In Myanmar and Bangladesh a couple of new surveys are now complete. You can read Graham Chisholm’s account of some of the field census research in Myanmar in Feb 2010 here. And Jez Bird, Alex Lees, and Rob Martin report the first installment of their survey in Bangladesh here. Both surveys found fairly good numbers of Spoon-billed Sandpipers – 25 in Bangladesh and  at least 71 in Myanmar – in areas where miles of habitat remain to be surveyed. Still perilously endangered, but it’s a relief to know that numbers are not any lower.


  1. says

    Hello David,

    You’ve just made my day! After I last saw you in the heat of the Pak Thale saltpans, I decided I just had to sculpt a Spooner, as it would help me understand the wee beastie a little bit better. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any shots or reference to the underside of the bill. and this wasn’t what I was expecting! Thanks very much.

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