Roseate spoonbill

RoseateSpoonbill.jpg

Roseate spoonbill: Platalea ajaja

Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class:  Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Genus/Species: Platalea ajaja
Common Name: Roseate spoonbill

Listing Status

Federal Status: Not listed
FL Status: State-designated Threatened
FNAI Ranks: G5/S2 (Globally: Demonstrably Secure/ State: Imperiled)
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)

Physical Description

The roseate spoonbill is the only spoonbill endemic (native) to the Western Hemisphere (Bjork and Powell 1996).  This species can reach a length of 30-40 inches (76-102 centimeters) with a wingspan of 50-53 inches (127-135 centimeters).  It has pink wings and underparts (with some red on the tops of the wings) with a white neck and back, and pinkish legs and feet.  While the species looks almost entirely pink in flight, they actually have no feathers at all on their heads. The pink coloration comes from the organisms on which they feed, which are full of caroteniods (organic pigment) (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, n.d.).  As the name implies, the roseate spoonbill also has a large, spoon-shaped bill, which it sweeps back and forth in shallow water to capture prey.

Life History

The specialized bill has sensitive nerve endings which help the birds search for food in shallow water.  The diet of the roseate spoonbill primarily consists of crayfish, shrimp, crabs, and small fish.

There is no sexual dimorphism (difference in form between individuals of different genders in the same species) in roseate spoonbills.  They nest in mixed colonies (near other wading bird species) in mangroves or trees and though most breed on the coast, some nest inland.  Nesting habitats include coastal mangroves and dredged-made islands. (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).  The female builds the nest while the male retrieves the nesting materials.  The female lays up to three whitish-colored eggs and both adults incubate the eggs for up to 24 days (Smithsonian National Zoological Park, n.d.).  The young remain in the nest for approximately 35-42 days and are fed by both adults.

Habitat and Distribution

Roseate Spoonbill Distribution Map

The roseate spoonbill is a resident breeder in South America, generally east of the Andes, and coastal areas of Central America, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico (Dumas 2000).  Mangrove islands and occasionally dredge-spoil islands are the preferred nesting habitat for the species.  In Florida, the species is found in Florida Bay, Tampa Bay, and Brevard County.

Threats:

One historical threat to the roseate spoonbill was hunting for their feathers, though this practice is now illegal which has allowed the population to rebound.  Another threat to the spoonbill is the availability of adequate food sources and habitat degradation.  In the Florida Bay, the increased fresh water flow from the Everglades may affect prey availability for the spoonbill.  Other threats include habitat loss and disturbance, pesticides, and illegal shootings (Dumas 2000).

Conservation and Management

The roseate spoonbill is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and as a State Species of Special Concern by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule External Website.

-Biological Status Review (BSR) Adobe PDF
-Supplemental Information for the BSR Adobe PDF

Other Informative Links

Birds of North America External Website
Florida Natural Areas Inventory External Website
FWC Breeding Birds Atlas Adobe PDF
FWC Species Profile
Encyclopedia of Life External Website
Honolulu Zoo External Website
International Union for Conservation of Nature External Website
Smithsonian National Zoological Park External Website
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology External Website

 

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References

Bjork R.,G.V.N Powell., 1996.  Roseate Spoonbill.  Pages 295 – 308 in J.A. Rodgers, Jr., H.W. Kale II, and H.T. Smith (Eds.).  Rare and endangered biota of Florida, Vol. V:  Birds. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Dumas, Jeannette V. 2000. Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/490 External Website

Florida Natural Areas Inventory.  2001.  Field guide to the rare animals of Florida. http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Ajaia_ajaja.PDF External Website.  Accessed on 17 March 2011

Smithsonian National Zoological Park. (n.d.). Fact Sheets Roseate Spoonbill. Retrieved March 9, 2011, from Smithsonian National Zoological Park:   http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Birds/Facts/FactSheets/fact-rosespoonbill.cfm External Website

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. (n.d.). Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja). Retrieved May 4, 2011, from Texas Park and Wildlife: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/spoonbill/ External Website


Image Credit Photo by FWC



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