Roseate Spoonbill

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Common Name: Roseate Spoonbill
Scientific Name: Platalea ajaja

Size: 31 inches (80 cm)

Habitat: North and South America. Only the northern edge of the Roseate Spoonbill's range lies within the United States. This neotropical bird can be found in many areas around the Gulf of Mexico, and breeds in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Florida populations occur in the southern half of the state. Roseate Spoonbills are also found in Mexico, Central America, and South America, as well as across the West Indies and Greater Antilles. Found in marshes and wetlands.

Status: Near Threatened. Global Population: 175,000. In the United States, Roseate Spoonbill numbers have rebounded over recent decades, though the current population is still less than what it was before the plume-hunting era. Although the species is increasing in numbers, it remains a Species of Special Concern in both Florida and Louisiana.

Roseate Spoonbill numbers were reduced to near extinction by the late 19th century. The bird was hunted ruthlessly, its plumes used in ladies' hats, and its wings sold as fans. By 1939, about 30 birds were all that remained of the thousands that formerly inhabited Florida.

The greatest current threat to the Roseate Spoonbill is habitat loss. As coastal marshes are drained, developed, or polluted by industry, less suitable breeding habitat is available for the birds--a particular concern in coastal Louisiana. While many Roseate Spoonbill nesting colonies are within protected areas, their foraging sites are often unprotected and prone to human disturbance. The species also faces persecution in parts of Central and South America.

Diet: Crustaceans, very small fish (that larger waders ignore) and other invertebrates. Spoonbills feed by swinging their bills from side to side as they steadily walks through the water, often in groups

Nesting: Sexes are similar, but immature birds have white, feathered heads and the pink of the plumage is paler. Their bills are yellowish or pinkish. Spoonbills nest in trees, often mangroves, laying 2 to 5 eggs.

Cool Facts: Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched. Roseate Spoonbills can be found feeding nearby Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Tricolor Egrets and American White Pelicans.

Their specific spoonbill feeding goes into the shallow muck of ponds, marshes and rivers and not after free swimming fish thereby making them a non-competitor for the fish the other wading birds in general are fishing.

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume I

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