Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja)

Roseate Spoonbill

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Threskiornithidae | [latin] Ajaia ajaja | [authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [UK] Roseate Spoonbill | [FR] Spatule rosee | [DE] Rosaloffler | [ES] Espatula Rosada | [NL] Rode Lepelaar


Monotypic species


The genus Ajaja is indigenous to Central and South America, the other Spoonblls all lumped in Platalea are New World species. In many morphological aspects, the spoonbills of the genus Ajaja and Platalea resemble in general appearance. The difference is, the Ajaja ajaja has a bare head (without the characteristic tuft of the Platalea leucorodia) of greyish color. The beak, has a similar shape to that of all the other species of spoonbills, including those of the Old World.

Physical charateristics

The upper neck and back of the Roseate Spoonbill are white. The wings and the under parts are a shade of light rose. The wings and the tail coverts are a deep carmine. The legs and the iris are red in color. Parts of the Spoonbills head is a distinct yellow-green. The most distinctive feature on the Spoonbill, is the spoon-like bill itself. The bill, which is spoon-like in shape from birth, flattens out at the end to aid in feeding. The Spoonbill is about 90-100 cm in length.

Listen to the sound of Roseate Spoonbill

[audio: Spoonbill.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 130 cm wingspan max.: 140 cm
size min.: 68 cm size max.: 86 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 23 days
fledging min.: 35 days fledging max.: 23 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


North America, Latin America : South USA to North Argentina


Roseate spoonbills are usually found in marsh like areas, especially mangrove swamps and mud flats. Spoonbills create large, deep, well-constructed nests out of sticks, much like the nests of herons, in mangrove trees.


Roseate Spoonbills arrive on breeding grounds about 1 month before pairing. Pair formation may be delayed up to 1 month or more because of below normal temperatures. Courtship includes innate forms of communal display termed ‘up-flights’ and ‘sky-gazing, which vary with intensity according to stage of cycle. Male defends a wide territory around the nest site, he brings nest material to the female who constructs the nest. Only the male undertakes defensive displays. Copulation takes place on the nest. Eggs are laid at the rate of 1 every other day, average clutch size is about 3 eggs pernest. Incubation period lasts 23-24 days, incubated by both sexes. 1 brood. Hatchlings are fat, flabby, have enormous abdomens, and soft ducklike bills. Their skin is salmon pink and they are scantily covered wtih short white down. Young leave nest 35-42 days. after hatching but do not exhibit perfect flight until 49-56 days.

Feeding habits

The Roseate Spoonbill feeds in a special way. It uses its spoon-like bill to scoop various things from shallow water. By swishing the bill back and forth in the water, the Spoonbill is able to pick up minnows, small crustaceans, bits of plants and insects. The Spoonbill usually feeds in shallow, muddy water, usually found around its marshy or mangrove infested environment. While feeding, Spoonbills utter a low, gutteral sound.

Video Roseate Spoonbill


copyright: youtube


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 8,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 100,000-250,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Common breeding speceis in Suriname, but numbers are declining. Can be found in the coastal lagoons and muddy parts.
Roseate Spoonbill status Least Concern


Generally considered to be sedentary throughout most of range, though partially migratory in North of range. Most birds breeding in Louisiana and Texas apparently winter in Mexico. Seasonal movements also recorded between Cuba and Florida. Post-breeding dispersal of immatures and adults throughout ranges, single birds or flocks from Mexico occasionally reach South California. Movements very little known in South America. Rare non-breeding visitors reach c.52 degrees South in Argentina and Central Chile. Accidental to Falkland Islands. Sedentary and common, but diminishing in Suriname.

Distribution map

Roseate Spoonbill distribution range map


Abstract: We conducted a study in 1978-1980 of the nesting c..[more]..
Source: The Auk 99: 275-284

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