Roseate SpoonbillPlatalea ajaja

adult
Arthur Morris/VIREO
immature (1st yr)
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult
Doug Wechsler/VIREO
adults
Arthur Morris/VIREO
Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

Description

30-32" (76-81 cm). W. 4'5" (1.3 m). Bill long and straight with broad spatulate tip from which the bird gets its name. Mainly white, with brilliant pink wings and flanks, and orange tail; shoulder rich crimson. Immature pale pink and white.

Voice

Low croaks and clucking sounds.

Listen

roosting calls
sounds at colony

Habitat

Mangroves and saltwater lagoons.

Range

Resident locally on coasts of Texas, Louisiana (rare), and southern Florida. Also in American tropics.

Discussion

These birds spend much time feeding in the shallow waters of Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on shrimp, small fish, snails, and aquatic insects, which they detect by their sense of touch as they rhythmically sweep their "spoon-shaped" bills from side to side. Early in the century their numbers were severely depleted by plume hunters, but with protective laws they have increased once again.

Nesting

2 or 3 dull-white eggs, with dark spots and blotches, in a bulky nest of sticks built in a low bush or tree. Nests in colonies.

Similar Species

adults

American Flamingo

48" (1.2 m). W. 4'7" (1.4 m). Unmistakable. A tall, long-legged, long-necked pink bird with a short, down-curved bill. Wings have black tips and trailing edges.

Vireo

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