Wild Wednesday – Roseate Spoonbill

Florida's Nature Coast affords us the opportunity to see many different animals, especially birds.  Recently a Roseate Spoonbill was spotted from one of our tour boats.  The Captain was a lifelong Crystal River resident and could not remember ever seeing one before.  You never know what is around the next bend in the river.

The spoonbill stands nearly 3 foot tall with a 4 foot wingspan when fully mature.  As a juvenile the plummage is white.  It turns pink and sometimes a deep red based upon the age and diet in the area. (Falmingos are the same way.) They were once hunted to the brink of extinction for their feathers.

They nest in mangroves laying 2-5 eggs per year.  Natural predators include eagles and vultures.  Nests and young are sometimes killed by fire ants as well.

They feed by swooshing their bills back and forth through the water to catch shrimp, frogs, beetles, minnows and whatever else they can get.  Unlike herons, they fly with their necks and legs fully extended.  Most often they flap their large wings a few times and then glide.

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