Black-faced Spoonbill Census

Range-wide Census of Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor

©2000 Ecosystems Ltd.

The Black-faced Spoonbill (Threskiornithidae, Platalea minor) is classified as “Critically Endangered” in the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. The species is identified as “facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future” due to population reduction, predicted to be associated with “a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat”. Given that the historical distribution of Black-faced Spoonbills is greater than its current known distribution, and the observed trends in loss of coastal wetlands in East Asia in recent years, this projection seems well justified.

All known major wintering sites of the species (particularly Tseng-wen Estuary (Taiwan), Deep Bay (Hong Kong/China) and Red River Delta (Vietnam) are coastal estuarine wetlands. Industrial development proposals threaten the integrity and water supply of the Tseng-wen site; pollution and coastal development threaten the Deep Bay site; human habitat modification is affecting the Red River site.

Since 1993, Ecosystems Ltd. has coordinated a range-wide winter season census of this species. This effort originally arose from attempts to collate data on the species for an environmental impact assessment. It was realized that existing data on the species’ population size and distribution had to be updated to allow adequate assessment of impacts to the species from a development proposed near their main wintering site.

Starting in 1994, the census effort has been carried out with the goal of advancing knowledge of the population size and winter distribution of this endangered species, in order to provide a better foundation on which to base proposals for conservation of the species and its habitat. The species’ summer range and breeding biology remain even less well known than its winter range, but scientists in Korea and China are working hard to fill that data gap.

Winter population data 1988 to 2000

Map of wintering locations

Contributors to the census effort

From winter 2002, the BirdLife International affiliate, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society has accepted the responsibility to start the coordination of the International Census. Please refer to the following web site for updated census information: