A large white waterbird with black legs and a long black bill uniquely shaped like a spatula with a yellowish tip. In breeding the plumage from breast to thick crest acquires a warm yellowish wash. Sexes alike. Immature has a paler bill and black wing tips. Flies with neck and legs outstretched with flapping movements interspersed with gliding; neck is generally held low so that it looks as if the bird is struggling to keep the keep the bill raised.
Inhabits all types of shallow water. Also the coast. Spends much of day sleeping on one leg. Feeds on aquatic animals by sweeping bill from side to side through water.
Locally common breeding resident and winter visitor mainly to the Northwest, west, south and Sri Lanka.
Clatters bill and grunts at nest.