Biome: Southern Swamps
Biography: From a distance, a spoonbill might be confused with a flamingo due to its pink color. Upon closer inspection, the spoonbill is very distinct in appearance. It differs from the flamingo by its flat spoon-shaped bill, pale green featherless head, shorter neck, and pink legs. While feeding, a spoonbill wades through shallow water, sweeping its sensitive, half-open bill from side to side in the water or mud and snapping it shut when it touches its food. Typical food includes minnows and killifish, crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects, and occasionally plants. Special pigments in the food give spoonbills their spectacular colors.
During the late 1800s, roseate spoonbill numbers declined when hunters killed the birds and collected their feathers for the fashion industry. Their plumes were used in hats, and their wings were sold as fans. Protection efforts helped the birds to reestablish nesting colonies and their population has since recovered.
Roseate spoonbills live in colonies and can be found on the coasts of Texas, Louisiana and southern Florida. They inhabit marshes, swamps, ponds and rivers within their range, and feed in both fresh and saltwater wetlands. Roseate spoonbills are also found in Mexico, Central America and South America, as well as across the West Indies and Great Antilles.