Roseate Spoonbill

Platalea ajaja

The Roseate Spoonbill is a sociable wading bird from the ibis family. Adults have a bare greenish head and a white neck, back and breast along with a grey bill. They can be seen with a tuft of pink feathers in the center when breeding, but are otherwise a deep pink. Like the American flamingo, their pink color is diet-derived and can range from pale pink to bright magenta, depending on age and location. Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched.

This species feeds in shallow fresh or coastal waters by swinging its bill from side to side as it steadily walks through the water, often in groups. The spoon-shaped bill allows it to sift easily through mud. It feeds on crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, newts and very small fish ignored by larger waders. Roseate spoonbills must compete for food with snowy egrets, great egrets, tricolored herons and American white pelicans.

The roseate spoonbill nests in shrubs or trees, often mangroves, laying two to five eggs, which are whitish with brown markings. Immature birds have white, feathered heads, and the pink of the plumage is paler. The bill is yellowish or pinkish.

Facts About Roseate Spoonbill

  • 28-34 inches in length
  • 2.5-4 pounds
  • 47-52 inch wingspan
  • Oldest known spoonbill was 16 years old