Audubon observes the Roseate
May, 1832 - Audubon sees Spoonbills in Florida Keys.
Audubon had observed Spoonbills earlier during the period
of time he lived in Louisiana and on explorations
Here for information on 15" x 24" Roseate Spoonbill
here for information on 22" x 25.5"
Here for 27.5" x 18.8"
Audubon's Ornithological Biography he writes about
his observations on the Roseate Spoonbill. A small part
of his observations are below:
beautiful and singular bird, although a constant
resident in the southern extremities of the peninsula
of Florida, seldom extends its journey in an eastern
direction beyond the State of North Carolina. Indeed
it is an extremely rare occurrence there, and even in
South Carolina, my friend John Bachman informs me that
he has observed only three individuals in the course
of twenty years. . . . Although rather abundant on
some parts of the coast of Florida, I have found it
more so along the Bay of Mexico, particularly in
Galveston Bay in Texas, where as well as on the
Florida Keys, it breeds in flocks. The Spoonbill is so
sensible to cold, that those which spend the winter on
the Keys, near Cape Sable in Florida, rarely leave
those parts for the neighbourhood of St. Augustine
before the first days of March. . ."
Roseate Spoonbill is found for the most part along
marshy and muddy borders of estuaries, the mouths of
rivers, pounds or sea islands or keys partially
overgrown with bushes, . . . where they can reside and
breed in perfect security in the midst of an abundance
of food. . . . At the approach of the breeding season,
these small flocks collect to form great bodies, as in
the manner of the Ibises, and resort to their former
places of residence, to which they regularly return,
". . .
To procure their food, the Spoonbills first generally
alight near the water, into which they then wade up to
their tibia, and immerse their bills in the water or
soft mud, sometimes with the head and even whole neck
beneath the surface. . . . They move their partially
opened mandibles laterally to and fro with a
considerable degree of elegance, munching their fry,
insects, or small shell-fish, which they secure,
before swallowing them. . . . To all those keys in the
Floridas in which ponds have been dug for the making
of salt, they usually repair in the evening for the
purpose of feeding; but the shallow inlets in the
great salt marshes of our southern coasts are their
favourite places to resort"
feathers of the wings and tail of the Roseate
Spoonbill are manufactured into fans by the Indians
and Negroes of Florida; and at St. Augustine these
ornaments form in some degree a regular article of
trade. Their flesh is oily and poor eating.
addition to fans , the bird's plumes were sought by the
millinery trade. By the late 1800's, Ladies "hats" were
the cause for a reduction in the spoonbill population.
Spoonbills were slaughtered together with egrets and the
population of plume birds declined.
creation of the Everglades National Park in 1947 this
trend was reversed and Spoonbills began returning to
established nesting sites.
- Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja)
lovers usually will still find spoonbills at Sandy Key,
ten miles from Flamingo on the shore of the Everglade
Park, and some twenty miles from Marathon in the Keys
during November through March. Toward evening, several
hundred spoonbills return to Sandy Key to roost in the
island's trees. They also nest on Tern Key, and Joe Key,
plus several other islands.
addition to islands in Florida Bay, spoonbills can still
be found along the Southern and Northeastern coasts of
Florida and even along the coast of Texas into
information about the roseate spoonbill may be found by
following the link below to the Florida Breeding Bird
Atlas. The Atlas, a collaborative effort of Audubon of
Florida, the Florida Ornithological Society, and the
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
provides information of general status, habitat, and
status of breeding species in Florida.