NATURE NOTES: Roseate Spoonbills are Pretty in Pink

Roseate spoonbills roost at the Smith Oaks Rookery in High Island.

Although roseate spoonbills are not an unusual sight in coastal habitats, I still get excited when I see these colorful, somewhat bizarre looking birds. The spoonbill’s pink coloration looks pretty out of place compared to its surroundings, but makes sense considering its diet, which includes lots of crustaceans. Like flamingos that sport similar pink plumages, spoonbills can attribute their vibrant color largely to what they eat.

Some other characteristics you can look for to identify adult roseate spoonbills besides their flashy feathers include a light greenish-colored bald head, red eyes and visible ear openings. Juveniles, however, might look a little different since they have completely feathered heads and are much paler in color compared to adults. A roseate spoonbill will typically grow into its adult plumage by about three years of age.

Sarah Belles is a biology intern at Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the birds and their habitats along the entire Gulf Coast and beyond into their Central and South America wintering grounds. Learn more about the organization at gcbo.org.

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