Roseate Spoonbill: Ajaia Ajaja
Distribution and Habitat
Of the six species of spoonbills, only the roseate spoonbill lives in the western hemisphere. They inhabit the warmer portions of the world. You will find them from the gulf coast of the United States, southward to Argentina including the Bahamas, Caribbean, West Indies and Cuba.
One of the main requirements for spoonbills is the presence of shallow water areas in close proximity to nesting and roosting sites. They feed in salt, fresh and brackish waters. Bays, estuaries, tidal ponds and mangrove swamps are common feeding areas. They nest in wetlands, coastal inlands, in low trees, thick bushes, mangroves or reeds and occasionally on the ground.
Often mistaken for flamingoes, this brightly colored bird has an unmistakable feature- its spoon-shaped bill. They can range in height as tall as three feet, weigh between 40-60 pounds and possess a wingspan of up to 50 inches in width. They have long reddish legs, red eyes, long neck, and a long flat, grayish spoon-shaped bill. Adults have a bare greenish head, white neck, breast and back and are deep pink everywhere else. Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched.
Roseate spoonbills get much of their color from the food they eat which contain pigments that impart a pink/red color.
In the late1800s, they were driven to the brink of extinction in North America and Cuba where they were hunted for their beautiful feathers which were used in ladies’ hats, fans and screens.
Spoonbills are very social birds. They spend most of their time in the company of other spoonbills, as well as other water birds.