Length: 26 - 31 inches
Weight: 2.6 - 3.9 lbs
Wing span: 50 inches
Incubation: 22 - 32 days
Offspring: 2 - 3
Life Span: 10 years
This long-legged wading bird is pink with red highlights, white legs and red eyes. The neck is long and white and is stretched out when the bird flies. Tail feathers are yellow to orange. The head is bare of feathers and grey-green. The Roseate spoonbill is named after the shape of the bill, which is 6 to 7 inches long and flattened like a spatula. This makes it easy to distinguish the Spoonbill from other pink birds such as the flamingo or the ibis. The average adult is 26 to 31 inches long and weighs around 3 pounds.
The Roseate spoonbills main diet consists of fish, crustaceans and insects. It will on occasion also feed on aquatic plants and seeds. The bird wades while swinging the bill through the water. Whenever it feels movement the bill snaps shut to catch its food.
The Roseate spoonbill is most commonly found along the Gulf of Mexico and Central and South America. It thrives in marshes, tidal ponds, rivers, lagoons, sloughs and mangrove swamps.
The greatest threat to the Roseate spoonbill is mankind. Lots of wetland is being drained for mosquito control and real estate development, which leads to habitat loss.
The Spoonbill nest in colonies, often in the company of other wading birds such as ibises, herons and egrets. The Spoonbill is monogamous through breeding. Males try to impress females by showing their talent in finding good nest material, and by clapping their bill. The female will then build the nest from the material that the male collects. She prefers building their nest in the lower branches of a tree close to water. The nest is constructed using branches and plant stems, and is then lined with leaves and grass.
The Roseate spoonbill lays 1 to 4 dull white, speckled eggs. Both parents take turns sitting on the eggs. The eggs hatch after 22 to 24 days. Both parents feed the chick by regurgitation. When the young are 4 to 5 weeks old, they can fly and leave the nest. However, they will remain close to their parents and get fed by them until they are at least 8 weeks old.
The Roseate spoonbill has a very sensitive bill, which helps the bird detect living prey under the water surface.