Saturday, July 12, 2008

ROSEATE SPOONBILLS - MATAGORDA COUNTY

I was really lucky this week to get some awesome shots of one of our Gulf Coast's prettiest wetland bird species - ROSEATE SPOONBILLS!!!
















South-Central Texas holds some treasures as far as wildlife viewing if you know where to go. There are still some pristine wetland habitats here that haven't been developed for, ugh(!)...humans and their beach condos, but the money keeps pouring in from everywhere and the future remains precarious for these small yet fairly isolated stretches of coastline. The ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja), I think you'll agree, is a beautiful wetland bird species. I happened across a whole flock of them this week and I was able to get some video clips of a pair who were wading and fishing!

Roseate Spoonbills can be found in the U.S. along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas. They also occur in South America and the Caribbean. We are very lucky to still have them here as they were hunted close to extinction during the 1800's for their beautiful pink feathers. Thankfully the populations have rebounded since then, but of course they now face threats from the continued loss of wetland habitat along the gulf. They require shallow, brackish waters where they use their unusual spoon-shaped bills to sweep back and forth gathering small fish, shrimp, snails, insects, or other crustaceans for food. They are indescribably unique the way they use that big flat beak to sift the water for food! They almost look prehistoric or something! This is the first video clip I've ever gotten of these birds feeding so I was a very happy birder on this day!

The coastal areas of Matagorda County, Texas still provide many opportunities for these big wading birds to breed and nest. Spoonbills can get fairly big at 32 inches with a 50 inch wingspan and they are very dramatically colored with bright pink feathers - you will know it when you spot them!

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