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The Royal Spoonbill is a recent immigrant from Australia and is establishing itself around some estuaries and bays in New Zealand. It's distribution is uneven and it is still rare in some parts of the country.

Its Maori name is Kotuku-nutupapa and its scientific name is Platarea regia. These pictures were taken at Okarito Lagoon on the West Coast of the South Island. The spoonbills nest in the same area as the white heron (kotuku).

The Royal Spoonbill feeds on fish, shellfish, crabs, frogs and small aquatic insects in tidal flats. Given it has colonised New Zealand naturally, it is a native species in the biological sense.

The sibling rivalry of the kotuku is absent with the kotuku-nutupapa