This immature Roseate Spoonbill came in from nowhere as I was leaving, and I took off my pack to get the Nikon out just as it landed down. The landing-down photos were taken in order (the top photo was taken a few moments after the immature Spoonbill landed).
The Roseate Spoonbill landed down right next to this Egret, and the Spoonbill took a few flaps of its large wings to gain its balance.
Marked by its light pink hues, the Spoonbill is an immature (after three years, the adults take on an overall brighter roseate plumage, highlighted by bright red shoulders and chest and orange-ish tail). Just as I was leaving–after taking more than a few photos and wanting to leave the Spoonbill there undisturbed–a photographer and his friend came down the boardwalk path at Wakodahatchee Wetlands Preserve. “Is that a Spoonbill?” the photographer asked very quietly, as he fumbled just like I did earlier to get his camera ready and focused on this beautiful Roseate Spoonbill about thirty yards off. From the Smithsonian, “The Roseate Spoonbill, a large wading bird with pink plumage and a distinctive spatulate bill, is one of the most striking birds found in North America.”
The Roseate Spoonbill is also sketched onto the cover of my Florida Birds guidebook. The Spoonbill is listed in Florida as a species of concern. It was hunting for its beautiful plumage, and by the 1930s the Spoonbill was on the fringe of extinction. By 1935, it was believed that Florida’s spoonbill breeding population had been reduced to only 5 nests on Bottle Key in Florida Bay. At that time, the National Audubon Society took on the task of, not only protecting these birds, but also finding out why numbers remained so low more than 30 years after the plume trade was halted. The Spoonbill’s recovery is contingent on the health of South Florida’s wetlands.
A 2010 study overlooked by the media shows that the overall number of Roseate Spoonbill nests in the Everglades watershed was more than 60 percent lower than wildlife officials had set as a threshold for the Spoonbill’s recovery at the time. A copy of the report can be found in my earlier post.