Though it was freezing and I decided to be extremely smart and be the only one wearing flip-flops, the field trip to South Lido Beach Park was super nice! There were many animals that we saw last class. I was really surprised at the sharks that people caught. They were small, but I wasn’t expecting any sharks to be in the water at all. The blue heron was really beautiful and then the wind blew and messed up its feathers. The raccoons that came out at the end were a nice finishing touch. Out of all of these animals, the ones that most caught my attention was the Roseate Spoonbill. At first glance, I thought it was a deformed flamingo because of the bill.
The Roseate Spoonbill has pretty pink feathers that intensify as they grow older and were hunted to the brink of extinction in the past for ladies’ hats, fans, and screens. It’s odd that they were hunted for this reason because the feathers of the Roseate Spoonbill would fade rapidly. I remember that we talked about the possibilities of why the bird has pink feathers and what possible advantages would their color serve the bird and so far, I’ve found out that there isn’t a big advantage environmentally as they stand out a lot. They don’t seem to have an advantage and it doesn’t seem to be for mating either because both the female and the male have the same plumage. Juvenile Roseate Spoonbills are white to pale pink. The Roseate Spoonbill is believed to be pink due to the algae eaten by the crustaceans that they eat. A similar bird that shows this example is the Flamingo. Flamingos are born grey and acquire their pink feathers from a natural pink dye in their diet of shrimp and algae. The bird’s predators include jaguars, pumas, and alligators. The Roseate Spoonbill’s biggest predators, however, are humans. Even though they have rebuilt their population after being endangered due to decades of protection, they are still experiencing habitat loss to this day. This is mainly because of water pollution as they live in mangrove swamps, tidal ponds, saltwater lagoons and other places with brackish water. They create nests in trees and it takes a full 3 years for Roseate Spoonbills to mature and mate.