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Profile of the Roseate Spoonbill

While looking at some of my favorite birding blogs, I came across a post about the Roseate Spoonbill, a fantastically beautiful bird found in Florida and Central American.

If you’ve never seen one of these birds, you’d be amazed. The Roseate Spoonbill is a large wading bird with colors similar to the recognizable pink hue of the Flamingo. It also has a pretty big spoonbill beak ideal for eating things in the water.

Its pink hue, like the Flamingo, comes from its diet of crustaceans, bugs, water beetles and other small sea creatures. Unlike herons, when the bird’s in flight, it flies with its neck straight out, so it has an even stranger appearance in flight.

While the species is not considered endangered, numbers in Florida have been diminishing since the 1930s. In fact, things got so bad at one point there were only about 30 or 40 breeding pairs in the state. Part of the reason why their numbers dwindled was hunting. Their pink feathers were prized by old-fashioned fanmakers.

Another, more alarming reason for their decline is the loss of habitat. Roseate Spoonbills thrive in the ecosystem of marshlands and wetlands because the things they eat (small fish, amphibians and aquatic beetles) live in that environment.

Ever since they were afforded protections from hunters, their numbers have steadily increased to well over a thousands breeding pairs in Florida. However, they are still vulnerable to changes and increased development along the coast. Many flocks have been forced to breed in developed coastal areas and even suffer from exposure to pesticides.

Hopefully, these birds will adjust and restoration work with the Everglades will lead to better habitats for the Roseate Spoonbill. These spoonbills remain the only spoonbills in the Western Hemisphere.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

2 Comments

  1. These birds can also be found in the marshes of southeastern Louisiana. When fishing near Cocodrie, LA, I often see these birds in the marsh.

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