Roseate Spoonbill

Platalea ajaja

Flamingo? Not so!

You might think roseate spoonbills are related to flamingos, another famously pink bird, but it turns out the two species aren’t closely related at all. Ibises, with their long, curved beaks and sometimes-bald heads, are the closest relative spoonbills have.

The spoonbill’s bill serves up a swampy soup.

Spoonbills hunt by touch. The spoon at the end of their bill is perfect for combing through muck and murky water. Its head sweeps back and forth as it hunts, feeling around for tasty treats.

Spoonbill chicks don’t use spoons.

Adult spoonbills care for their chicks for the first several weeks of their life. Since the chicks don’t hunt, they don’t need a special bill. The spoon shape grows in once the chicks are eating on their own.


Animal Facts

  • Range Found throughout South America, mostly east of the Andes, and northward through Central America, the Caribbean, and the Gulf Coast of North America.
  • Habitat These birds inhabit coastal marshes, bays, lagoons, mangroves, and mudflats.
  • Diet Their diet includes crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, newts, and very small fish. At the Zoo they eat small fish like smelt and anchovies, some insects and pelleted food, plus added vitamins and minerals.
  • Size They reach a height of up to 2.5 feet with a wingspan that can stretch 1.5 times as wide, reaching up to 4 feet. They weigh between 2-4 pounds.
  • Location in Zoo Tropical Rainforest
  • Conservation Status Least Concern.

Did You Know?

The roseate spoonbill’s pink color comes from the pink and orange colors of the foods they eat.