ROSEATE SPOONBILL

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

The Roseate spoonbill is a spectacular looking bird with bright pink feathers like a Flamingo, but it is not related to that species even if both are tall wading birds. The roseate spoonbill is around 30 inches (80 cm) high and its wingspan extends to some 50 inches (130 cm). The head is bare and greyish, the neck and breast are white, as well as the back. Sexes are similar. The grey bill is elongated and ends in a spatula shape. The base of the wing can be bright red. As for the flamingos, the pink color is diet-related. Roseate spoonbills fly with their neck straight, unlike the heron family.

Both the Latin and English names refer to the large, flat bill of this bird which evolved to search for prey in shallow water. To do this the roseate spoonbill will move its head sideways while slowly walking and keeping its bill slightly open in the water, feeling prey and snapping shut when it finds one.

Roseate spoonbills were almost driven to extinction in the 1800s by feather hunters, and its numbers have still not completely recovered in the USA since then. It is found in Texas, Louisiana and Florida but is uncommon. Its main distribution areas are Mexico and southward to parts of South America.

Roseate spoonbill immature - Rockport Country Club, TX - Sept. 1, 2016 - by Jodi Arsenault
Roseate spoonbill immature – Rockport Country Club, TX – Sept. 1, 2016 – by Jodi Arsenault

BACK TO THE TOP