• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®: Roseate Spoonbill: Hot Pink

Air Date: Week of

Roseate Spoonbills live year-round along the Gulf of Mexico and are the only Spoonbill species with a hot pink color. (Photo: Mike Hamilton ©)

This aptly named bird has a unique bill and color that sets it apart from other wading birds. BirdNote’s Mary McCann reports.


CURWOOD: Birds have dominion over the skies, and you could argue they also reign supreme in the realm of beauty -- with flashy feathers in brilliant colors. And as Mary McCann of BirdNote® explains, some beautiful birds are also, well… a bit bizarre.

Roseate Spoonbill – Hot Pink Along the Gulf of Mexico

MCCANN: Of all the bold colors nature has bestowed upon birds, somehow bright pink seems the most outrageous, the most surprising. And just about the hottest pink bird of all lives year round along the Gulf of Mexico -- the Roseate Spoonbill.

[Roseate Spoonbill call and bill snaps]

The Roseate Spoonbill is built like a large heron. It’s a tall, slender wading bird with a long neck. Adults have deep pink bodies, blazes of carmine red on the wings and necks, and a tail the color of orange sherbet.

So, the Roseate Spoonbill is gorgeous -- at least from the neck down. Its head is bizarre though: unfeathered bare skin, shading from yellowish to gray, with a very long bill that looks like it belongs to a different bird entirely, ending in a wide, flattened spoon shape. All set off by a ruby-red eye.

It feeds by wading through the shallows, head moving from side to side, bill in the water until sense organs inside it detect a small fish or crab, when the spoon snaps shut.

Sense organs inside a Spoonbill’s beak help the bird detect small fish and crabs. (Photo: Lee Ann Reiners ©)

This specialized way of feeding, known as tactolocation, is shared by all six of the world’s spoonbill species. Oddly, all the other species are feathered only in white and found in the Old World.

Which leaves just one on this side of the globe.

But -- it’s the hot pink one.

I’m Mary McCann.


Written by Bob Sundstrom
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Roseate Spoonbill ambient [135411] M J Andersen and M J Fischer
Roseate Spoonbill call - http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Platalea-ajaja -
Xeno-Canto [173887] recorded by Paul Marvin.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2005-2018 Tune In to Nature.org June 2018 Narrator: Mary McCann


CURWOOD: For photos, wade on over to our website, loe.org.



Listen on the BirdNote website


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth