Tag Archives: Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill Taking Off

Roseate Spoonbills in flight are quite attractive, with their beautiful pink wing feathers with the red/pink bands across the edge fully open. This beauty is quite a contrast to their featherless heads and gnarly beaks.

Roseate Spoonbill In Flight
Roseate Spoonbill In Flight

Like the other wading birds I’m more familiar with, the Spoonbills are elegant flyers, with an effortless looking lift off that shows off all their colors.

Roseate Spoonbill In Flight
Roseate Spoonbill In Flight

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 1/28/2018

Spoonbill Gathering

I saw a lot of Roseate Spoonbills the first three days of my Florida trip in January but at a distance, behind low scrub and/or in low light. Finally on the third afternoon we came upon a flock of mixed wading birds in a marsh that was close enough to the road for clear photographs.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

The flock was working from our right to the left, both wading and taking short flying hops.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

The Ibis and Spoonbills seem quite content to hang out together.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

This Roseate Spoonbill trio really show off the darker pink band on their wings, a contrast with the White Ibis that has just a hint of black on his wing tips.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 1/28/2018

Roseate Spoonbill Age Comparison

The Roseate Spoonbills that I saw in Florida  more clearly demonstrate the differences between the immature and adult birds than those I’ve seen in South Carolina. The pink color comes at least in part from their food that they sift out of the water with their unique beaks.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbill older

Over time the pink shades darken as the pigments concentrate, they get a black band around their head and loose the white head feathers. The younger Spoonbills also have smoother  beaks.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbill – younger

These two finally stood side-by-side in a marsh for a comparison shot.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills

Click on any photo for larger view.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 1/28/2018.

Late Season Spoonbills

We hadn’t seen any Roseate Spoonbills in weeks and suspected they had migrated south. What a delightful surprise to see a flock of about thirty when we visited the the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center on November 30th. This spot is slightly north of where we usually see the Spoonbills.

Roseate Spoonbills in Flight
Roseate Spoonbills in Flight

Our viewing spot wasn’t that great and this property limits the number of visitors so the birds have little or no acclimation to humans.

Roseate Spoonbill in Flight
Roseate Spoonbill in Flight

Still, it was Spoonbills. There were some Woodstorks in the same group but they flew off in the other direction.

Roseate Spoonbills in FlightRoseate Spoonbills in Flight

The Spoonbills did give a short show looping around while they decided on their destination.

Roseate Spoonbills in Flight
Roseate Spoonbills in Flight

Click on any photo for larger view.

Spoonbills Moving With the Tide

Roseate Spoonbills follow the ebbing and flowing water in the tidal marshes looking for food. The tide was coming in and this group was moving with it towards the shallower water.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills
It was barely perceptible to the human eye that the water was moving. Those shiny bubbles are created by air escaping from the recently flooded mud.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills
The Spoonbills, however, know when it is time to go: over the berm where I was standing: follow the leader.

Roseate SpoonbillsRoseate Spoonbills

The height of the water on  the other side is controlled by the SC Department of Natural Resources using trunks that were originally placed when rice was grown in these ponds. Too deep for feeding, the Spoonbills landed in a tree to rest.

Spoonie Tree
Spoonie Tree
When I turned back a few minutes later the inlet where I first spotted them had filled with water and none of this mud was visible.

Click any photo for larger view.

Sunrise on Roseate Spoonbills

The first morning sun highlighted the pink in these handsome birds. The Roseate Spoonbills often stand in a straight line like this when they are in small groups, sometimes with one outlier.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills

They either weren’t hungry or there wasn’t much to eat because they got involved with personal grooming and looking around.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills

An Eagle flew over and that might have distracted them.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills with a few ducks

There was still some fog in the air as a few of them lifted off and they disappeared into the mist.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills

Click on any photo for a larger view.

I’m Not Looking

The Great Egret was determined not to look even as another noisy Roseate Spoonbill landed in the favorite tree.

Spoonbill Landing in Tree with Great Egret
Spoonbill Landing in Tree with Great Egret

The Spoonbills aren’t nearly as elegant as the Great Egrets when they land. Lots of flapping goes on and if another Spoonbill is nearby they often snap their beaks at each other.

Spoonbill Landing in Tree with Great Egret
Spoonbill Landing in Tree with Great Egret

Click photos for larger view.