The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

Roseate Spoonbill

Photo courtesy of National Parks Service

Photo courtesy of National Parks Service

Scientific Name:  Ajaia ajaja 

Where Roseate Spoonbills Live:   

Mangrove swamps, mud flats and other marsh type habitat from southern Georgia and Florida, south through Central America down to Argentina. 

plat_ajaj_AllAm_map

What Roseate Spoonbills Eat:   

The spoonbill wades and uses its bill to scoop fish, small crabs, plants and insects from shallow water.  

Why Roseate Spoonbills are Awesome:  

A spoonbill’s nostrils are located at top of the bill, making it possible to breathe while the bill is under water while hunting for food.  Hunting is done more by touch than sight, as the spoonbill quickly snaps its bill shut when it feels something within the bill.  Some experts say that any plants eaten by the spoonbill are purely accidental because of this feeding style.  

Of the six species of spoonbill in the world, the Roseate Spoonbill is the only one with pink plumage and the only spoonbill species found in the Americas.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Conservation of Roseate Spoonbills:  

This beautiful, large and gregarious bird was nearly hunted to extinction in the last part of the 19th century.  Its pink plumage was used in ladies’ hats, and its wings sold as fans. By 1939, about 30 birds were all that remained in Florida.  Interestingly, the Roseate Spoonbill’s pink plumage color is maintained by a diet rich in crustaceans that provide the necessary pigment.  But the pink color quickly fades once the feathers are no longer attached to a living bird.

The good news is Roseate Spoonbills made a comeback and currently have many champions monitoring and advocating for them, particularly Audubon of Florida.  Watch this brief video for more of the story.    

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2 comments on “Roseate Spoonbill

  1. Maymie Higgins
    March 11, 2014

    A reader from reddit has photographed this beauties, live and in person! Thank you, kaybeesee! Here are links to the photos: http://i.imgur.com/ZIXFUuh.jpg and http://i.imgur.com/2DC8pfg.jpg taken at Green Cay Nature Center in Florida.

    Like

  2. nevaknott
    March 13, 2014

    I love the fact about the nostrils.

    Like

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