Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja)


The male and female Roseate spoonbill, Ajaia ajaja, is 28 inches long and has a wingspan of 53 inches. They are relatively large, long-legged waders and have a long neck and a long spatula-looking bill. When the Roseate spoonbill is in flight it holds its neck extended.

The adult bird has red eyes that are in contrast to its greenish, featherless head. The bill is gray in color with dark mottling and it has a black nape band. The wings and back of the spoonbill are a beautiful pink color, the legs are red and the feet dark. The juvenile spoonbill has yellow eyes and bill with a white or at times a pale pink plumage and a white-feathered head.

The Roseate spoonbill enjoys marshes, mangrove swamps and tidal ponds found along the Gulf Coast. They feed in water that is shallow, brackish or salty and at times they will feed in fresh water by swinging their spoon-shaped bill from side to side in long arcs. The spoonbill will feed either in small groups or by themselves and are often seen in company of other varieties of wading birds.

The Roseate spoonbill is a monogamous bird and will breed in swampy, marsh areas producing one brood. Their nest is made up of dense vegetation above the water or on ground. The nests are made well and are a cup shape stick platform, lined with dry fine materials. The male spoonbill will look for the building materials while the female builds the nest. The female will produce three off-white eggs, marked with brown. The incubation period takes just over three weeks and once they hatch it takes a further 35 to 42 days before they are able to fly. The spoonbill’s diet is made up of fish, insects, crustaceans and a few water plants. They pick up the food by sweeping their bill through the water and when they feel their food they snap it up. The nesting area or colony is made up of different birds, like herons and egrets.