National Wildlife Refuge System
 

Roseate Spoonbill

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Think pink!

Just getting started with bird watching? Even beginning bird watchers should have little difficulty identifying this spectacular bird!

Look for a large, shocking-pink bird with an enormous spoon-shaped bill in Florida, Louisiana and Texas coastal wetlands. These social birds are usually found in groups, and nest communally in trees near water. During breeding season the pink plumage ratchets up a few notches for nesting adults, much to the delight of birders and photographers.

Once nearly extirpated in the U.S. due to rookery disturbance and demand for feathers in the ladies hat trade of the 1800s and 1900s, it has recovered somewhat and can be found in suitable habitat in several Gulf coast states.

Spoonbills use their long, curiously-shaped bills to feed in an interesting manner. They wade through shallow waters with their bill tips (the "spoon" part) slightly open, heads swaying from side to side, ready to snap their bills shut when they feel prey such as fish and aquatic invertebrates, which they catch almost entirely by their sense of touch.

Roseate Spoonbill Data:

  • Size - Stand about 31 inches tall, with a 32-inch long body, 6.5-inch bill, 52-inch wingspan. Average weight is 3.3 pounds.
  • Breeding Range - Nov. - Aug., mostly along the coast in FL, LA and TX
  • Non-breeding Range - disperses from nesting areas within breeding states and into nearby states, often far inland and occasionally many hundreds of miles from the Gulf coast
  • Diet - mostly fish, crustaceans and insects
  • U.S. habitat - feeds and breeds in a variety of freshwater, brackish and marine environments. Nests mostly over water in trees or shrubs, often on islands.

See it for Yourself

While nothing can be guaranteed in the world of bird watching, roseate spoonbills can be common in the proper season and habitat at these refuges:

Last updated: October 28, 2010