Birds of the Bible – Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) by Quy Tran

Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) by Quy Tran

Birds of the Bible – Roseate Spoonbill

The Roseate Spoonbill is a member of the Threskiornithidae – Ibises, Spoonbills Family. We see them quite often in this area, especially in the Fall and Winter time.  I am always thrilled when we come upon them in our birdwatching adventures. Their cousins, Ibises, are a Bird of the Bible.

Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (Genesis 1:20-23 NKJV)

Since the Lord created all the birds, this is one of His neater creations, at least in my opinion. Their spoon-shaped bill is sort of unique to the birds. There are actually five other Spoonbills besides the Roseate.

The Roseate Spoonbill is 28–34 in (71–86 cm) long, with a  47–52 in (120–133 cm) wingspan and a weigh 2.6–4.0 lb (1.2–1.8 kg). The legs, bill, neck and spatulate bill all appear elongated. Adults have a bare greenish head (“golden buff” when breeding) and a white neck, back, and breast (with a tuft of pink feathers in the center when breeding), and are otherwise a deep pink. The bill is grey. There is no significant sexual dimorphism.

Like the American Flamingo, their pink color is diet-derived, consisting of the carotenoid pigment canthaxanthin. Another carotenoid, astaxanthin, can also be found deposited in flight and body feathers. The colors can range from pale pink to bright magenta, depending on age and location. Captive Spoonbill are fed their normal diets, plus some include juices made from carrots.

Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched. They alternate groups of stiff, shallow wingbeats with glides.

Spoonbills feeding in a pond by the school. Cloudy day. Not the best, but you can see their eating behavior. Taken by me.

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. In the United States a popular place to observe Roseate Spoonbills is “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. (Also at Circle B Bar Reserve as you can see by the list below of some of my sighting on e-Bird) Roseate Spoonbills must compete for food with Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Tricolored Herons, and American White Pelicans.

We came upon a group of them roosting at Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It was the first time I had seen that many in one place and so close to us.

Enlarge - Count at least 20 Spoonbills

Roseate Spoonbills at Ding Darling NWR – Dan at work.

The Roseate Spoonbill nests in shrubs or trees, often mangroves, laying 2 to 5 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.

Here is one I caught in a tree at Circle B Bar Reserve:

Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork by Lee

Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork by Lee

What prompted writing about one of the bird friends I always enjoy seeing, is an article about the Roseate Spoonbill in one of my latest additions of BirdWatching. It’s a great magazine and I am not condemning it. I am used to “reading around the evolutionary influences” in articles about birds. But I was offended by this remark, “It’s hard not to look at the Roseate Spoonbill in the Everglades and think, ‘What happened here:’ Amid the herons and cormorants, the spoonbill seems like an evolutionary hiccup, a failed experiment.

One, the Roseate Spoonbill is far from an “evolutionary hiccup!” It hasn’t evolved, it was created by a loving all knowing Creator, that knew exactly what He was doing. Two, it definitely was not a “failed experiment.” The way the bill is designed and the sensitivity of its touch is amazing. The Lord promised to provide for all His creatures as well as His own people. Nor are we “hiccups.” We are all created by him, but there are differences and varieties in the birds just as there is in our talents and abilities.

I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)

All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; Under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young; And in its shadow all great nations made their home. (Ezekiel 31:6 NKJV)

(Wikipedia and other internet resources consulted)


Birds of the Bible

Birds of the Bible – Ibises

Bible Birds – Ibises

Birds of the Bible – Isaiah 34:11

Birds of the World – Threskiornithidae – Ibises, Spoonbills

World – Life Observations – Roseate Spoonbill

  Location Date
1 Roseate Spoonbill Corpus Christi 8-Nov-01
2 Roseate Spoonbill Circle B Bar Reserve 9-Feb-07
3 Roseate Spoonbill Viera Wetlands 20-Nov-07
4 Roseate Spoonbill Merritt Island NWR–Black Point Wildlife Dr. 22-Nov-07
5 Roseate Spoonbill Circle B Bar Reserve 10-May-08
6 Roseate Spoonbill Lake John Rookery 15-May-08
7 Roseate Spoonbill J. N. Ding Darling NWR 15-Jul-08
8 Roseate Spoonbill Circle B Bar Reserve 1-Nov-08
9 Roseate Spoonbill 6 Circle B Bar Reserve 28-Nov-08
10 Roseate Spoonbill 16 Merritt Island NWR–Black Point Wildlife Dr. 20-Jan-09
11 Roseate Spoonbill 3 Circle B Bar Reserve 24-Feb-09
12 Roseate Spoonbill 4 Circle B Bar Reserve 10-Mar-09
13 Roseate Spoonbill 15 Circle B Bar Reserve 24-Oct-09
14 Roseate Spoonbill 15 Circle B Bar Reserve 23-Dec-09
15 Roseate Spoonbill 5 Hillsborough 4-Feb-10
16 Roseate Spoonbill 1 MacDill AFB 31-Jan-11
17 Roseate Spoonbill 1 Lake Parker Park 7-Jan-12
18 Roseate Spoonbill 3 Circle B Bar Reserve 16-Jan-12
19 Roseate Spoonbill 2 Picnic Island Beach 24-Jan-12
20 Roseate Spoonbill 1 Lake Hollingsworth 26-Jan-12
21 Roseate Spoonbill 3 MacDill AFB 16-Aug-12
22 Roseate Spoonbill 3 Circle B Bar Reserve 10-Nov-12


One thought on “Birds of the Bible – Roseate Spoonbill

  1. Pingback: Spoonbills nesting in Warmond nature reserve | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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