Roseate spoonbill

The Roseate Spoonbill belongs to the family Threskiornitidae. It shares the group with ibises.
It has one of the most stunning bills among birds. The bill is incredibly long and extremely flat. The male´s bill is aproximately 23 cm long, the female´s, 19 cm. At the base it is as broad as the head, gets thinner towards the center and ends in a disk broader than the head. From this spoon-like bill derives the name of this bird. The tongue is very short, almost a fourth of the bill in length. The upper mandible tip is slightly decurved.
The mandibles have blunt borders with teeth-like structures in the proximal part. At the tip there are touch receptors which feel for prey and help detect it in cloudy waters.
Roseate Spoonbill
21-01-17 © J. Simón Tagtachian
Dorsal view of the bill and the nostrils near the bill base
Roseate Spoonbill
02-02-17 © J. Simón Tagtachian
Lateral view of the bill. Tip slightly decurved
Roseate Spoonbill
11-03-17 © Elsa y Guillermo Marcaida
Ventral view of the bill
Roseate Spoonbill
14-12-05 © Roberto Ares
View of the tongue and the teeth-like structures in the proximal part

The spoonbill feeds in shallow waters. It wades through the water with its bill practically submerged and moves it back and forth forming an arch. This technique is called "head-swinging" or "billsweeping". The spoonbill keeps the bill slightly open ready to snap it shut as soon as the receptors perceive the food item. Once caught, the spoonbill lifts up its bill to push the prey into the throat. This movement is necessary since the tongue is too short to reach it. It can also find it visually
The spoonbill feeds on crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, slugs, insects, larvae, aquatic plants and seeds. A carotenoid-rich diet gives the spoonbill the pink color of the feathers.
13-02-17 © Claudia Vilma Mon

A juvenile Roseate Spoonbill sweeping the water with the bill at the Coypu Pond. 

29-04-17 © Cora Rimoldi

Feeding at the Coypu Pond. Carlos Agulian told us he had seen five roseate spoonbills from the outer sidewalk. We could see only this one. The rest were behind the island. Some time later we saw the five individuals flying.

The spoonbill is a social bird which is commonly seen in groups together with other conspecifics or other aquatic birds (herons, ibises, storks, etc.). The spoonbill is found in fresh waters or in coastal salt waters.
Roseate Spoonbill
29-01-05 © Roberto Ares
Roseate Spoonbill
10-12-05 © Roberto Ares
Roseate Spoonbill
26-02-05 © Roberto Ares
Roseate Spoonbill
21-01-07 © Roberto Ares