The roseate spoonbill has long been considered one of the most beautiful birds in the entire world, largely due to its eccentric coloring. Like flamingoes, roseate spoonbills are almost entirely pink, with different shades of varying depths covering most of their bodies.
Like the flamingo, roseate spoonbills gets their intense coloring from their diets, which consist mostly of crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, and small fish. Depending on the age and habitat of individual roseate spoonbills, their colors can range from paler pinks to bright magentas, with newborns starting out quite pale and becoming darker as they age. On any given roseate spoonbill, the brightest and most intense colors are generally found on their wings.
Roseate spoonbills are wading birds that are members of the ibis and spoonbill families. Because they prefer warmer climates, they are most prevelant in South America but can also be found throughout Central America and along the Gulf Coast of the United States, namely in Southwest Florida. Roseate spoonbills are small in size, with wingspans of up to five feet, and have elongated legs and necks with rounded, spatulate bills.
It is these spoon-shaped bills that give the roseate spoonbills their name, bills which they use to easily sift through mud while searching for food. They prefer to travel and feed in groups, and can often be seen in clusters of shallow, coastal waters, swinging their bills from side to side as they steadily make their way through the water.
Adult spoonbills have few known predators, but their young and nestlings can be particularly vulnerable to raccoons, fire ants, and larger birds such as bald eagles and turkey vultures. Like many Everglades bird species, habitat destruction poses the most serious threat, as these beautiful birds rely on mangroves and other low shrubs and trees for nesting and raising their young.
Due to their unique and bright coloring, roseate spoonbills are easily spotted when traveling by airboat through the Everglades. In general, airboat tours offer excellent bird-watching opportunities, and spotting one of these magnificent birds in the wild for yourself is sure to be an experience that you never forget.