Birds – Roseate Spoon-bill

The Spoon-bills are nearly cosmopolitan in distribution, and are divided into three genera and about six species, of which the Roseate Spoon-bill (Ajaja ajaja) is the only American representative. It is a handsome bird about thirty-two inches long, and is distinguished from the Old World forms by having the head and throat bare. The neck and upper back are white, with the rest of the plumage pink, becoming carmine on the lesser wing-coverts and upper and under tail-coverts; it is without crest or ornamental plumes. In the immature bird the head and throat are feathered and the plumage is more inclined to pink. The Roseate Spoon-bill is found throughout tropical and subtropical America, north to the Gulf States, having been formerly abundant in Florida, but the persecutions of plume hunters have so nearly exterminated it that during four winters recently spent in various parts of the state, Mr. Chapman did not observe a single specimen. It is, however, still to be found in comparative abundance on the Texas coast. They frequent the muddy or marshy borders of estuaries, mouths of rivers, and the salt-water bayous, having the general habits of Herons, “but feeding by immersing the bill and swinging it from side to side in their search for food.” The Spoon-bills are gregarious at all seasons, but especially so during the nesting period, when they congregate in vast numbers, returning season after season to the same locality. The nest is a platform of sticks placed in bushes or low trees, and the eggs are three to five in number, white, spotted and blotched with various shades of olive-brown. They average about two and one half by one and three quarters inches.