and Florida, south through Central and South America
The roseate spoonbills
Named for its unique spoon-shaped bill, the roseate spoonbill has attractive pink plumage and a defined carmine wing patch. The bare green skin on its head takes on a yellowish hue during the breeding season.
It sweeps its sensitive bill from side to side in the water to snag crustaceans, insects and small fish. While the tropical American populations have been more or less stable, those in North America and Cuba were almost exterminated by plume-hunters in the late 19th century.
Recovery of a species
Roseate spoonbills often shared their nesting grounds with egrets, which were extensively hunted for their plumes. Though their feather colour fades rapidly, the spoonbills were sometimes taken indiscriminately by hunters.
The disturbance of their nesting grounds was also detrimental to the spoonbills’ reproductive efforts. Fortunately, a combination of strict legislation and watchful protection of breeding areas in sanctuaries has seen a healthy recovery of the species.