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!

video video

9 comments:

Shellmo said...

Very neat to see this spoonbills as we don't have them where I'm at. All great photos!

NCmountainwoman said...

I never saw so many in one spot in my life! In fact, the only times I've seen them in the natural setting were during Florida vacations.

Great shots!

ADVENTURES IN NATURE said...

They are so beautiful, pictures really can't do them justice, but thanks anyway to both of you!

Max said...

Great spoonbill videos! I have not seen the species in a long time. There could be opportunities for contract work here with spotted owls, marbled murrelets, or snowy plovers. It is prety competitive here, however, which is why my work is out-of-state.

ADVENTURES IN NATURE said...

Thanks Max! I'm looking to stay in the south-central Texas region. Contracting and working via computer for other regions would be great though. Love your blog site, keep posting!

EcoRover said...

Exotic birds, for us northern mountain dwellers.

Our ecosystems share some migrating species (in addition to human tourists!)--in the winter, do you see snipe or sandhill cranes?

What other species connect our diverse environments?

ADVENTURES IN NATURE said...

Sandhill Cranes I see every year - they love our coastal marshes and estuarine habitats. I do think we get Snipe, but I haven't personally seen any. We have a national Whooping Crane project that we are a part of here. They winter every year in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge which is along the central Texas coastline. So if you see the Whoopers flying overhead, they stayed down here for the winter! I think there is also a small population that they are working to establish in southern Florida, but it hasn't been as successful, at least not yet.

I will post more about the whoopers on my blog.........

Steve sculpts critters said...

I remember seeing spoonbills as a nipper in some bird sanctuary place.
Very weird.
Do they stir water into a vortex and then spoon out the collected small creatures?

yen said...

like your post and keep up the good stuff and enjoy ...your nature