Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill, a beautifully colored and unique species of birds and one out of six types of spoonbill.  This Bird is only found in the Americas and the Everglades. You can find Spoonbills along the south Florida coast. The range starting from the northern part of the Florida Keys to Tampa. Spoonbills have a unique appearance. Although being pink in coloration there neck is white.  Variations on these shades are common. Often mistaken for a flamingo when in flight, their pink coloration similar to flamingos is a result of their diet. They eat Crustaceans and other similar species found in the Florida Everglades. They contain carotenoids which are pigments that help turn the feathers pink.

Roseate Spoonbill features

Features of the spoonbill include a spoon-shaped bill, from which their name derives from although they look similar in flight like flamingos. When born the immature spoonbill does not have the spoon shape quite yet, however, when they are nine days old it begins to flatten. After thirty-nine days it’s full-sized and flat. The purpose of this oddly shaped bill is for the way the Spoonbill feeds. It flies to a shallow part of the waters in the saw grass, lowers its partially opened bill into the water, and moves its head side to side. These birds have sensitive mandibles, used for capturing fish with a quick snap of its bill. Another odd fact about the Spoonbill is the fact that they bald as we do. They lose feathers on the top of their heads similar to how we lose our hair.

Spoonbill conservation

Spoonbills were poached for their brightly colored feathers for hats, however, it is illegal now. Conservation is an important aspect that we like to teach the people during our airboat tours. The Everglades has gone through many transformations over the years. Human interference has had a mostly negative impact. This is why airboat rides are great. We glide above the water, and our engines also stay above the water level. This means our airboats don’t disturb animal and plant life. We want to increase people’s awareness of how special of a place the Everglades is. Eco-tourism is very important for a place like Florida, and airboats actually are the ideal form of transportation. Affecting nature less while increasing awareness is vital for the well-being and conservation of the Everglades.

Seeing a  Spoonbill on an Airboat tour

When taking an Everglades tour you may see the roseate spoonbill in its natural habitat, however, mornings are best.  After years of doing airboat rides and tours in the Florida Everglades, my favorite bird is the roseate spoonbill.  They are an interesting bird to watch while they are feeding or in flight, however, wadding is the best photo opportunity. Normally wintertime is the best time to see them on an airboat ride. The water levels in the Everglades are lower and it is cooler outside. Wintertime offers better visibility too. Less humid, less fog, it makes it easier to spot animals and take the right pictures.

What tour is best for bird watchers

Fort Lauderdale Airboat Rides offers two types of tours: the one-hour and the two-hour explorer ride. We recommend that you take the two-hour ride if you’re aiming specifically at watching birds. The reason for this is simple: bird watching and bird photography take more time. It is a slower-paced activity. We want to ensure you will have enough time to find those birds, settle in a corner, and take your snaps. We know bird photography is both about quantity and quality. You will want to take enough pictures in different places using different lighting, so you can come back home with something you are truly happy with. Also, it can take time to find the Roseate Spoonbill in the right place and angle. We will do our best for you to observe this majestic bird.


For more information on the roseate spoonbill visit Everglades National Park or to take an airboat ride in the Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Book your airboat ride on our website or call us today. Don’t hesitate to ask us questions, and let us know if your main interest in touring the Everglades is to find birds. That way we can prepare and plan to take you to the best places where you are more likely to encounter them.

About the Author