Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja

  • © Howard Platt

The spoonbills are a group in the Ibis family, but a group that is as well defined as they come in the ornithological world. Their plumage varies from white to yellowish to pink, but all have a particularly distinctive and unique bill shape; one that expands out to a large spoon-shaped tip, and not a small expansion but a large one that is visible from a great distance. The Roseate Spoonbill is the only one to be expected in the Americas, it is found from the southern United States south east of the Andes to central Argentina, although vagrants have occurred to Patagonia, and Chile, as well as north of its typical range in North America. This bird, if any can be termed this, is a flying field mark! The large size and the unusual bill shape are enough to make a species notable, but add to this a bright pink plumage and you truly have a one of a kind species. Not only that, those who study the adult Roseate Spoonbill closely are also taken aback by the complexities of the bare face pattern, as well as hints of yellowish-buff in the plumage, and the exact tonal differences of the pink in various parts of the body. The juveniles are much duller, whitish in color, and in fact begin with a fully feathered head. The Roseate Spoonbill uses the bill and its fine comb-like filters in the cutting area of the bill to strain the mud of various small food stuffs. In a sense it has arrived at the flamingo life style and ecology, but from another angle.

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© Michael Andersen

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: