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Roseate Spoonbill       Platalea ajaja

With its pink plumage, red eyes, and large spoon-shaped bill, the Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida’s most enchanting birds. Although not common, They can usually be seen along the coastlines of central and southern Florida.  During the summer months, they can also be seen in the northern parts of the Florida peninsula and the Panhandle.

Adult birds, two years and older, have a bald greenish head, a black nape band, scarlet wing coverts, and a pale grayish bill with dark ridges near the base.  Younger birds are pale pink, lack the scarlet coverts and black nape band, have a white feathered head, and a smooth bill.

Spoonbills feed in shallow water, sweeping their open bills from side to side to sift up food like small fish, shrimp, mollusks, snails, and insects. There are touch receptors in the bill that aid the birds in feeling their prey.  They may be with other wading birds.

The Spoonbill population was nearly eliminated in the late 1800s as water colonies were destroyed.  Re-colonization began in Texas and Florida in the early 20th century and they made a comeback.  It is still vulnerable to degradation of its feeding and nesting habitat and is currently listed Florida’s Species of Special Concern.

Images on this page were taken in the little Estero Lagoon in Fort Myers Beach, Circle B Bar Reserve, Myakka River State Park, pond in back of Walmart on Kings Highway in Port Charlotte, and an island rookery on the Peace River north of Punta Gorda.