All of sudden, there they were – a flurry of pink as several juvenile Roseate Spoonbills came swooping in, jockeying for the best position as they settled onto the pond.The population of these magnificent birds was greatly reduced a little over a century ago, when they were hunted for their feathers at the height of the plume trade. Fortunately, the conservation efforts of the newly formed Audubon Society and other groups resulted in protective national legislation in the early 1900’s. One of their primary threats now is habitat loss, though we are still fortunate to have many wetland preserves in Florida where Roseate Spoonbills nest and breed. As I’ve written about before, Roseate Spoonbills feed by a unique process called tactolocation. They capture small fish, crustaceans, amphibians and aquatic insects by sweeping their large spatula-shaped bills from side to side. As the prey come into contact with nerve endings in the huge bill, the bill snaps shut.The juvenile Spoonie in these photos had wandered off from a larger group in a more distant pond. The water level here seemed to be just right. He was quite content to wade about alone in the shallow water right below my feet for a long time, though when he looked right up at me several times, I wondered if I was interrupting his mealtime.But, on second thought, I think not . . . he just went back to foraging busily right below my feet.
As you can see by his behavior in this video, he’d apparently found a pretty good eating spot 😉