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


Birds of the Bible – Ibises

Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus) by Dan at LPZoo

Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus) by Dan at LPZoo

and for a long time birds and hedgehogs, and ibises and ravens shall dwell in it: and the measuring line of desolation shall be cast over it, and satyrs shall dwell in it. (Isaiah 34:11 Brenton)

While working on Birds of the Bible – Isaiah 34:11, I was pointing out how the different versions of the Bible translated that verse. One of the birds that appeared in those verses was the Ibis. After searching through e-Sword, “Ibis/Ibises” showed up in four different Scriptures. The Ibis is being added as a Bird of the Bible and will have it’s own page, Ibises.

Of course the Isaiah 34:11 verse, quoted above, has “ibises” in the Brenton and the ABP+ (Apostolic Bible Polyglot w/Strongs Numbers).
(ABP+) Birds, and hedgehogs, and ibises, and crows shall dwell in her; and [shall be put upon her cord a surveying of desolation]; and satyrs shall live in her.
(Brenton) and for a long time birds and hedgehogs, and ibises and ravens shall dwell in it: and the measuring line of desolation shall be cast over it, and satyrs shall dwell in it.

Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 both have the list of clean and unclean birds that the Israelites were to observe.

Leviticus 11:17
(ABP+) And long-eared owl, and cormorant, and ibis,
(Darby) and the owl, and the gannet, and the ibis,
(DRB) The screech owl, and the cormorant, and the ibis.
(ISV) owl, cormorant, ibis,

Deuteronomy 14:16
(ABP+) and heron, and swan, and ibis,
(Darby) the owl, and the ibis and the swan,

There is one other reference to an “ibis” and that is in the GNB (Good News Bible) which I totally disagree with its translation.
(GNB) Who tells the ibis when the Nile will flood, or who tells the rooster that rain will fall?

Here is what the verse says in several other translations:
(KJV) Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?
(NASB) “Who has put wisdom in the innermost being Or given understanding to the mind?
(ESV) Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?

The way it reads, there is no mention of a any kind of a bird or an ibis.

Wikipedia has this to say about the Ibis (edited) “The ibises (collective plural ibis; classical plurals ibides and ibes) are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae of the Pelicaniformes Order.
They all have long down curved bills, and usually feed as a group, probing mud for food items, usually crustaceans. In Florida, they probe around in yards looking for insects or whatever. Most species nest in trees, often with spoonbills or herons.
The word ibis comes from Greek and Latin, and probably from the Ancient Egyptian. According to Josephus, Moses employed ibes against serpents during a desert campaign into Ethiopia in his early life. Pliny the Elder also recounted, “The Egyptians invoked [ibes] against the serpents.”

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) by Dan at LPZoo

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) by Dan at LPZoo

In culture

The Sacred Ibis was an object of religious veneration in ancient Egypt, particularly associated with the god, Thoth. At the town of Hermopolis, ibises were reared specifically for sacrificial purposes and in the Serapeum at Saqqara, archaeologists found the mummies of one and a half million ibises and hundreds of thousands of falcons.
According to local legend in the Birecik area, the Northern Bald Ibis was one of the first birds that Noah released from the Ark as a symbol of fertility, and a lingering religious sentiment in Turkey helped the colonies there to survive long after the demise of the species in Europe. (Not found in Scripture)
The mascot of the University of Miami is an American White Ibis. The ibis was selected as the school mascot because of its legendary bravery during hurricanes. The ibis is the last sign of wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane hits and the first to reappear once the storm has passed.  By the same token, the short story The Scarlet Ibis used the hearty bird’s appearance and untimely demise inland to foreshadow one of the central character’s death.
The Sacred Ibis is the unit symbol of the Israeli Special Forces unit known as Unit 212 or Maglan in Hebrew: מגלן.”

Bare-faced Ibis (Phimosus infuscatus) by Robert Scanlon

Bare-faced Ibis (Phimosus infuscatus) by Robert Scanlon

Here is a list of the Ibises, by their genera

African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) by Lee at Lowry Park Zoo
Malagasy Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis bernieri)
Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus) – by Nikhil Devasar
Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) by Ian
Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis)
Red-naped Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa)
White-shouldered Ibis (Pseudibis davisoni) ARK
Giant Ibis (Pseudibis gigantea) ARK
Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)
Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus) by Dan at L P Zoo
Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon)
Olive Ibis (Bostrychia olivacea) IBC
Sao Tome Ibis (Bostrychia bocagei)
Spot-breasted Ibis (Bostrychia rara)
Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash)
Wattled Ibis (Bostrychia carunculata)
Plumbeous Ibis (Theristicus caerulescens)
Buff-necked Ibis (Theristicus caudatus) by Dario Sanches
Black-faced Ibis (Theristicus melanopis) b
Sharp-tailed Ibis (Cercibis oxycerca) IBC
Green Ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis)
Bare-faced Ibis (Phimosus infuscatus) by Robert Scanlon
American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) by Dan at Lake Morton
Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) by Dan at L P Zoo
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) by Dan at Circle B
White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) ©USFWS
Puna Ibis (Plegadis ridgwayi)
Madagascar Ibis (Lophotibis cristata)