The only spoonbill native to North America and the only pink spoonbill in the world, the roseate spoonbill is instantly recognizable and distinct.
- Bill: Long, gray-green, spatulate
- Size: 30-35 inches long with 52-inch wingspan, long neck
- Colors: White, red, pink, gray-green, buff-yellow
- Markings: Genders are similar with a white upper back, neck and upper breast. The head is bare skin with a gray-green or buff-yellow tinge. Wings, rump and underparts are pink with a bold red or deeper pink blurry wing bar. Legs and feet are pink or red, and the eyes are red. Juveniles are much paler, have dark eyes and lack the wing bar.
Fish, insects, mollusks, crustaceans
Habitat and Migration:
Roseate spoonbills can be found in coastal swamps and marshes from western Louisiana through coastal Texas year-round, as well as along the southwestern Florida coast. Greater year-round populations are found in South America and the northern Caribbean, particularly Cuba and Hispaniola, though are missing in mountainous and deep rainforest habitats. In summer, these wading birds range further north and may be found regularly along the Gulf Coast in southern Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, and far north as southern Oklahoma. In winter, roseate spoonbills are often found along coastal Mexico. Vagrant sightings can be recorded throughout the United States far from their traditional range, but many such sightings may be escaped birds from local zoos or aviaries.
These are generally silent birds but do have a raspy, rapid barking call of up to 12 syllables that is often heard during the breeding season. Softer begging calls are common from young nestlings, and calls will occasionally be heard in flight.
Roseate spoonbills are social birds that often join mixed flocks with other wading birds such as ibises, egrets and herons. While feeding, these birds sweep their broad bills from side to side to forage in shallow water, and sensitive nerves in the bill help them detect and clamp down on prey. In flight, the legs and neck are both held straight.
These are monogamous birds and both parents share incubation duties for 22-24 days until the eggs hatch. Both parents feed the young birds for an additional 36-42 days until they are ready to leave the nest, and juvenile birds are generally strong flyers a week after moving out of the nest. A mated pair of roseate spoonbills will raise one brood of 1-6 eggs each year.
Attracting Roseate Spoonbills:
These are not typically backyard birds but they may visit yards near marshes or swamps, particularly if the yard has a large pond or similar water feature. These birds are susceptible to habitat loss through swamp drainage and mosquito abatement programs that remove insects as a food source, and conservation is essential to preserve their breeding and nesting areas.
- Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)
- Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)
- Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)