This genus is readily distinguished by its disproportionately large spatulate bill, its long lamellae, and its blue-grey wing-coverts. The bill is longer than the head, depressed, twice as broad near the tip as at the base, and the sides of the upper mandible are much turned down near the tip. The lamellae are not only very long, but very closely set. Wings and tail pointed. Tail-feathers 14.
Four species are referred to Spatula in Salvadori's Catalogue : one is Australian, one South African, and one South American; the fourth, a widely ranging migratory bird, occurs in India.