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Roseate Spoonbill
Platalea ajaja

Pelecaniformes Order – Threskiornithidae Family

Length: 81 cm
Wingspan: 127 cm
Weight: 1300g

LONGEVITY: up to 10 years

Roseate Spoonbill has white neck and back. Wings and underparts are tinged with pale pink. Small wing coverts and tail coverts are enhanced with carmine red. Legs are reddish. Semi-webbed feet are dark. The end of the tail is orange.
On the head, face and cheeks are greenish-yellow, bare crown and nape are blackish. Eyes are red. Bill is spatula-shaped, with flat, broad and rounded tip, and well adapted to its feeding behaviour. It is greyish mottled with dark. It sizes about 15 to 17 cm length. It is endowed with great sensitivity, allowing detecting living preys.

In breeding season, the pink colour becomes brighter. Head can become buffy beige. A half black collar encloses the bare nape. A carmine pink spot decorates the upper chest.
Immature have yellow eyes, yellowish bill, very pale white or pink plumage, and feathered white head.

Roseate Spoonbill utters a very low, guttural sound while feeding.
If it is usually silent, it can, when alarmed, to give a low-pitched sound “huh-huh-huh”.

Roseate Spoonbill lives in marshes, close to lagoons, in mangroves and mudflats.

RANGE: South eastern of the United States (Florida, Texas, and Louisiana), Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, eastern Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina.

Roseate Spoonbill is a gregarious bird, flying and feeding in small groups. As other spoonbills, it fishes "with the touch", while walking slowly, with bill  constantly immersed, performing long half circles from side to side, sweeping the fishing area to capture preys. It feeds in shallow water and in the mud, in marshes and mangroves in its environment, in brackish or salted water, and occasionally in fresh water.

Roseate Spoonbill nests in small colonies, often with herons and egrets. It is monogamous. The courtship display is elaborated including presentation of twigs by male, in order to prove its competence to find good nest materials. We can also hear snapping bill, and aerial chasings. Copulation occurs in the nest.

Roseate Spoonbill flies in long lines, crosswise, but also in typical V-shape.   In flight, neck and legs are completely stretched.

Roseate Spoonbill’s nest is located in trees, bushes, among reeds or on the ground. It is made with small branches and stems. It is large and deep, cup-shaped and well built, in the dense vegetation above water. Interior is lined with fine and dry plant materials, like leaves and grasses. Male brings materials, and female builds the nest.
Female lays 1 to 4 dull white eggs, mottled brown, of 65 mm length. Incubation lasts about 22 to 23 days, shared by both adults. Chicks hatch motionless, downy and with open eyes. Both parents feed them by regurgitation. Young can fly at about 35 to 42 days after hatching. However, they remain in around the nest, and are fed by both parents during 8 weeks more.

Roseate Spoonbill feeds on small fish, aquatic invertebrates and insects. It also consumes some aquatic vegetation.

Roseate Spoonbill was persecuted in the United States for the trade of feathers. Now, populations are increasing, due to disappearance of this threat.
However, drainage of wetlands destroys both habitat and feeding areas. Relatively high levels of pesticides are observed in some areas, by egg’s studies.   

Fr: Spatule rosée
All : Rosalöffler
Esp : Espátula Rosada
Ital: Spatola rosata
Nd: Rode Lepelaar
Russe: Колпица розовая
Sd: Rosenskedstork

Photographs by Bob Moul
His website: Nature Photography

Photographs by Tom Grey (Spoonbills fighting)
His website:  Tom Grey's Bird Pictures

Texte de Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF MEXICO AND NORTHERN CENTRAL AMERICA by  Steve N. G. Howell, Sophie Webb - Oxford University Press - ISBN: 0198540124

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

Wikipedia (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

Animal Diversity Web (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)


El Zoológico Electrónico (Damisela)


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