Roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)
By Jan Baumgartner
Thanks to its bright pink plumage, the spoonbill might be mistaken for a short, odd-looking flamingo from a distance. However, that’s where the similarity ends. The spoonbill is a full-time resident of south Florida’s coastal areas, like Siesta Key, and prefers wetland marshes with tree cover.
Shallow waters — salt or fresh — teeming with small crustaceans and fish are prime feeding grounds for the spoonbill. Its unique style of hunting will have you tapping your toe! With a steady upbeat rhythm the bird sweeps its head side-to-side; its eponymous spoon-shaped bill, slightly open, trawls just below the water’s surface. Attuned to the slightest touch of a tasty tidbit, the bill snaps and traps its prey in a flash. The spoonbill owes its pink panache to the types of aquatic delicacies it eats.
This bald adult spoonbill lost the once-feathered crown of its youth and, in the process, gained mesmerizing ruby eyes that were previously dull and dark brown.
Jan Baumgartner’s handmade notecards are available at Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures, 6635 Midnight Pass Rd., in Crescent Plaza.