Of all the bold colors nature has bestowed on birds, bright pink may be the most surprising. And just about the hottest pink bird of all lives year round along the Gulf of Mexico — the Roseate Spoonbill. These birds stand out, especially when flying against a blue sky. And the spoon-shaped structure is the key to the bird’s distinctive mode of feeding, known as tactolocation: wading through the shallows, head moving from side to side, bill in the water until sense organs detect a small fish or crab. Then the spoon snaps shut.
Roseate Spoonbill – Hot Pink Along the Gulf of Mexico
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
Of all the bold colors nature has bestowed on birds, somehow bright pink seems the most outrageous, the most surprising. And just about the hottest pink bird of all lives year round along the Gulf of Mexico – the Roseate Spoonbill.
[Roseate Spoonbill call and bill snaps]
The Roseate Spoonbill is built like a large heron. It’s a tall, slender wading bird with a long neck. Adults have deep pink bodies, blazes of carmine red on the wings and necks, and a tail the color of orange sherbet.
So the Roseate Spoonbill is gorgeous – at least from the neck down. Its head is bizarre though: unfeathered bare skin, shading from yellowish to gray, with a very long bill that looks like it belongs to a different bird entirely, ending in a wide, flattened spoon shape. All set off by a ruby-red eye.
It feeds by wading through the shallows, head moving from side to side, bill in the water until sense organs inside it detect a small fish or crab. When the spoon snaps shut.
This specialized way of feeding, known as tactolocation, is shared by all six of the world’s spoonbill species. Oddly, all the other species are feathered only in white and found in the Old World.
Which leaves just one on this side of the globe.
But – it’s the hot pink one.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Roseate Spoonbill ambient  M J Andersen and M J Fischer
Roseate Spoonbill call - http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Platalea-ajaja -
Xeno-Canto  recorded by Paul Marvin.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org June 2018 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# ROSP-01-2016-06-27 ROSP-01