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Roseate spoonbills in Florida’s St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge

With pale pink plumes, yellow-green heads, and red eyes, “the flamboyant roseate spoonbill looks like it came straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.” Like flamingos, these birds are pink thanks to their diet: “Spoonbills eat shrimp, shrimp eat algae, and the algae make their own red and yellow pigments, called carotenoids.”

CBS Sunday Morning shared this peaceful footage of spoon bills and wood storks at Florida’s St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge on their program. That might also be a glossy ibis or a white-faced ibis flying in the last 10 seconds.

roseate spoonbills
In the United States, roseate spoonbills can be found on the coasts of Florida, Texas, and southwest Louisiana in “bays, mangroves, forested swamps, and wetlands.” From NPS.gov:

A major period of decline for the spoonbill occurred in the early 1800s when the wings of this beautiful creature were made into fans, a “regular article of trade” in St. Augustine, according to John Audubon. The millinery or “hat trade” also took a heavy toll on the spoonbill in the late 1800s. Although their feathers were never in as great of demand as the plumes of the egrets because they faded, spoonbills were still slaughtered along with many plume birds, and their numbers declined. The establishment of Everglades National Park in 1947 seemed to have a positive effect on south Florida’s spoonbill population, which began reusing nesting sites that hadn’t been occupied since the late 1800s.

The National Audubon Society reports that spoonbills are climate-threatened; changes to their coastal habitats may disrupt their ability to successfully feed in shallow waters and nest in water-adjacent trees and shrubs. From AllAboutBirds.org:

The Roseate Spoonbill is 1 of 6 species of spoonbills in the world and the only one found in the Americas. The other 5 spoonbills (Eurasian, Royal, African, Black-faced, and Yellow-billed) occur in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia.

Get an up-close look at the spoonbill in this Front Yard Video clip:


Next: How do baby flamingos become pink?

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