Roseate Spoonbill: Ajaja ajaja


Is it the luminous pale pink plumage with red highlights or the long bill with the spoon shaped tip that so enchants those lucky enough to view this long-legged wader that is a member of the ibis family?


Prior to the 1850s, there were probably thousands of spoonbills along the Gulf Coast in Texas, Louisiana and Florida. By 1920, plume hunting and colony disturbance largely depleted the spoonbill population in the United States. A 1999 survey of nesting populations estimated 408 pairs in Florida Bay in the Florida Keys, Merritt Island, Tampa Bay and at two freshwater sites in the Everglades. The Florida Bay population represents the majority of the spoonbills that nest in the state. During the summer, roseate spoonbills are also found in Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Though plume hunting has ceased, spoonbills are still vulnerable today to habitat loss and alteration. In Florida Bay, freshwater inflows from the Everglades adversely affect the salinities of coastal wetlands and the population of fish and other prey. The roseate spoonbill is listed as a Species of Special Concern.


The spatulate bill of this species has an important function. It has sensitive nerve endings that help the spoonbill detect prey. As it sweeps the bill from side to side through shallow water, the spoonbill encounters small fish, shrimp, crayfish, fiddler crabs and aquatic insects, which it snaps up and swallows.

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FWC Facts:
Many species of fish (many groupers, snook, etc.) are hermaphroditic and change sex at some point in their life.

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