Ajaia ajajaroseate spoonbill

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Geographic Range

Roseate spoonbills occur from southern Georgia and Florida, south through Central American, the Caribbean, and South America to Argentina.

Habitat

Roseate spoonbills are usually found in marsh like areas, especially mangrove swamps and mud flats. Spoonbills create large, deep, well-constructed nests out of sticks, much like the nests of herons, in mangrove trees.

Physical Description

The upper neck and back of the Roseate Spoonbill are white. The wings and the under parts are a shade of light rose. The wings and the tail coverts are a deep carmine. The legs and the iris are red in color. Parts of the Spoonbills head is a distinct yellow-green. The most distinctive feature on the Spoonbill, is the spoon-like bill itself. The bill, which is spoon-like in shape from birth, flattens out at the end to aid in feeding. The Spoonbill is about 32" in length.

  • Average mass
    1036.97 g
    36.55 oz
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Reproduction

  • Average eggs per season
    3
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  • Average time to hatching
    23 days
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  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    1095 days
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  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    1095 days
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Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

When Spoonbills fly, they fly in long, diagonal lines. Their necks and legs are completely stretched out at this time. The most unique characteristic about the spoonbill in terms of behavior, is that when it feeds, it moves it's spoon beak back and forth in a sweeping motion to catch food. The behavior of these birds is much like the behavior of all birds which habitat shallow, marsh-like habitats.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Roseate Spoonbill feeds in a special way. It uses its spoon-like bill to scoop various things from shallow water. By swishing the bill back and forth in the water, the Spoonbill is able to pick up minnows, small crustaceans, bits of plants and insects. The Spoonbill usually feeds in shallow, muddy water, usually found around its marshy or mangrove infested environment. While feeding, Spoonbills utter a low, gutteral sound.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The Roseate Spoonbill is a species found mainly in Florida. Many avid bird watchers come to Florida to see this beautiful creature. This attraction, therefore, helps the economy. The feathers of the bird were heavily sought after in the middle of the century, but this practice has died out, due to the fact that the species almost became extinct.

Conservation Status

In the middle of the century, Roseate Spoonbills were heavily hunted for their brilliant and distinct red colored feathers. In recent years however, the Spoonbill has come back strong in certain isolated areas. Now, the main threat to the continuation of the species is the destruction of natural habitat. More and more shallow water habitats are being destroyed everyday. The survival of the Spoonbill depends on the survival of its habitat.

Contributors

Ryan Detwiler (author), Cocoa Beach High School, Penny Mcdonald (editor), Cocoa Beach High School.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

brackish water

areas with salty water, usually in coastal marshes and estuaries.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

estuarine

an area where a freshwater river meets the ocean and tidal influences result in fluctuations in salinity.

freshwater

mainly lives in water that is not salty.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

marsh

marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

saltwater or marine

mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Kale, H., D. Maehr, K. Karalus. 1990. Florida's Birds: A Handbook and Reference. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press.

Wyly Hall, F. 1994. Birds of Florida. St. Petersburg, FL: Great Outdoor Publishing Co..