Roseate Spoonbill at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

While exploring and photographing at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in December, I was fortunate to see and photograph a Roseate Spoonbill. Roseate Spoonbills are very unusual, large wading birds with pink plumage, red eyes and legs, and a distinctive spatulate bill. They usually are seen and travel in small flocks, but this one was alone and flew into the pond where I was photographing other wading birds.

Roseate Spoonbills were hunted to near extinction because their pink primary feathers were sought after by hunters for use in the construction of ladies’ fans in the late 1800s and early 1900s. By 1930, there were only 30-40 breeding pairs in Florida. Today, because they were banned from hunting, they have rebounded, and there are over 1,000 breeding pairs in Florida.

Roseate Spoonbills inhabit marshes, swamps, ponds and rivers, and feed in both freshwater and salt wetlands. They consume a varied diet of small fish, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, and some plant material. They feed in shallow water and are interesting to watch, because they walk through the water swinging their heads back and forth with their spoonbills in the water snapping shut when they feel prey in it.

My favorite image of this spoonbill is below with its feathers ruffled out. Double click on the image to see it in more detail.

For the photographers reading this article, all of the above images were taken with a Nikon D300 at 850mm, Aperture Priority at f8 with varying shutter speeds, and ISO 200).

About Stephen L Tabone

Executive Consultant and Nature Photographer
This entry was posted in Bird Photographs, National and State Parks, Wildlife and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Roseate Spoonbill at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

  1. researchlady says:

    The Roseate Spoonbill is not a very attractive bird but your photos of him make him out to be quite a “rock star”! I can see why his feathers were so desired for hats way back in the 1800s, they are gorgeous!

  2. Ann Cameron says:

    Do you know all this information on your subjects beforehand or do you look them up when you get home? Can I be THAT impressed?

    • I know a decent amount of information on the subjects and places I shoot, but try to make my blog articles interesting to my readers, and therefore, from time to time do a little research to validate what I write and add more content.

  3. Mac says:

    Stephen’s photographs allow us to view the uniqueness of Mother Nature” creations. Quite remarkable !!!!”

  4. barbaraelka says:

    what beautiful photography you have here!

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