Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Aug. 16, 2006)
Its a flamingo?
What is the state bird of Florida? Most people will answer, flamingo.
Floridas image is ironically associated with Flamingos. Bright pink flamingos
flatter logos, billboards, restaurant menus, travel brochures, and thousands of
plastic flamingos decorate Florida gardens, campgrounds, beach towels, etc.
Floridians are familiar with the site of large, pink birds wading in the shallow
waters around the bay.
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|Roseate spoonbills wade in the
warm, shallow waters near the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
dont tell anyone, but those are not flamingos! Those large, pink
wading birds out there in the waters around the bay are roseate spoonbills.
Although reports document greater flamingos were once numerous in Florida, these
birds are, for the most part, visitors to Florida. Flamingos are recorded in south
Florida, specifically Cape Sable and Everglades National Park. Most often the
flamingo you identify is an escapee from a local zoo.
Roseate spoonbills, Platalea ajaja, are native to Florida and are commonly seen by
residents of the Tampa Bay area. The roseate spoonbill, once hunted to near
extinction, is making a slow recovery. Habitat destruction, human invasion is this
birds largest enemy.
Roseate spoonbills are fascinating birds to watch. They are perfectly equipped to
feed in our shallow waters on fish, frogs and other aquatic invertebrates, while
sweeping their flat, spoon-like bills from side to side. Their head is bare and
appears grayish-green. The spoonbills neck is white. The lower back plumage,
wings, and belly are light to bright pink. Spoonbills breed from the Florida Keys
north to Tampa Bay. Roseate spoonbills nest in mangroves, laying two to five
Common places to observe the roseate spoonbill: Philippe Park, 2525 Philippe
Pkwy., Safety Harbor, FL 34695, 669-1947; Boca Ciega Millennium Park, 12410 74th
Ave. N., Seminole, FL 33772, 588-4882. Just off the Weedon Island Preserve is a
roseate spoonbill colony and rookery that can be observed by boat, back to
By the way, the northern mockingbird is the state bird of Florida.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.