Monday, November 1, 2010

Roseate Spoonbill at Busch Gardens Tampa

Roseate Spoonbill

A bizarre wading bird of the southern coasts, the Roseate Spoonbill uses its odd bill to strain small food items out of the water. Its bright pink coloring leads many Florida tourists to think they have seen a flamingo. Listen to their call.

Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Genus/Species: Ajaia ajaja
Roseate Spoonbill


The Roseate Spoonbill, a large wading bird with pink plumage and a distinctive spatulate bill, is one of the most striking birds found in North America. They stand 85 cm tall and have a 1.3 m wingspan. The bare skin of the adult's head has a greenish tinge with a darker black band around the base of the skull. The eyes and legs are red. The feathers of the neck, chest, and upper back are white. The upper wing coverts are red, the tail feathers are orange-pink, and the rest of the body and wing feathers are pale pink. The unique pale grey bill is long, flattened and spoonlike in appearance. Immature birds are paler in color and have feathered heads.

Distribution and Habitat:

Breeding in the United States is restricted to coastal Texas, southwestern Louisiana, and southern Florida. Their breeding range extends south from Florida through the Greater Antilles to Argentina and Chile. They inhabit marshes, swamps, ponds, and rivers within their range, feeding in both fresh and saltwater wetlands. Highly gregarious, Roseate Spoonbills breed and travel in flocks.


Spoonbills consume a varied diet of small fish, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, and some plant material. They feed in the early morning and evening hours by wading through shallow water with their bills partially submerged. As a Roseate Spoonbill walks it swings its head back and forth in a sideways motion. When the bird feels a prey item it snaps its bill closed, pulls the prey out of the water, and swallows it.

Photography by Craig at Busch Gardens Tampa

Thanks for stopping by,

Craig Glenn


KaHolly said...

A truly fascinating bird! I see them when I am visiting my daughter in S. Texas! Now I know a little more about them. Thanks! ~karen

Jewelry Link Exchange said...

Yes, second time around is indeed the charm with this bird! So glad you got it. I’ll never forget seeing my first Spoonbill. It was in Florida, but in southeast Broward County, an area of Florida where they do not tend to hang out, and in Anna Kolb Nature Center park, which is also known locally as “the park with no birds”. I walked the boardwalk thinking I might see Anhingas at the end, and instead…one lovely Roseate Spoonbill, just me and him. Just goes to show that you never know what you will find where.