The Roseate Spoonbill
The roseate spoonbill, known for itsr bright pink color and sometimes mistaken for a flamingo, was over hunted in the late 1800s when the bird's bright plumes sold for $2 each to be used as hand fans.
The colorful pink roseate spoonbill is unquestionably the
emblematic bird of Florida. Therefore, by all rights, it ought to be
the official state bird, but it is not.
Instead, the 1927 legislature chose the mockingbird, a year
around resident whose Latin name means "a bird of many tongues,"
something old-time politicians themselves were often quite adept at.
The roseate spoonbill was almost extinct by the mid-twentieth
century, but the bird is bouncing back quite strongly. Its broad, flattened
beak, whose tip is not too different from the shape of a manatee's
tail, is characteristic of birds young and old.
The bill is important for feeding, when the bird moves
its bill from side to side underwater in search of shrimp and small
fish. The flat bill also comes in handy for searching soft shallow
muddy areas for insects and crustaceans.
Preservation of the bird's shallow feeding
areas in Florida Bay and elsewhere is paramount to the roseate
Roseate Spoonbill Nesting Season
In Florida Bay, the Everglades and other parts of South Florida, roseates nest during November and December. In Central Florida, breeding occurs several
months later, around April.
In all areas, the nests are built in low, dense mangroves or trees, often sharing the same territory
as herons and ibis.
Roseate spoonbills, which normally lay three eggs, build sturdy,
deep nests made of sticks.
Immature birds display a soft pink on their wings and back that
darkens with age. They attain their bright pink, mature colors at about
three years of age. The pink is accented by a distinctive orange
tail and shoulders, rump, and chest patch that are all bright
red. The skin on the sides and back of the neck is a dark black.
A little gaudy overall, perhaps, like the dresses of French can-can girls,
but it's no wonder plume hunters wanted these birds
so badly they almost completely exterminated them.
Go To Where
To See Nesting Roseate Spoonbills
Return to March Wildlife Hotspots