Florida Birds – Woodstork and Roseate Spoonbill



Woodstork and Spoonbill

Woodstork and Spoonbill







I was lucky enough to see a flock of birds feeding in a shallow drainage swale off the Six Mile Cypress Pkwy in October on a cool  morning. I have never seen the Woodstork and Spoonbill together but they often inhabit and feed in the same areas. There were other birds wading in same area like the White Egret, Blue Heron, White Ibis and Little Blue Heron.

The Woodstork is listed on the U.S. list of Endangered birds mostly because of the destruction of wetlands in Florida and its loss of habitat.  It has white feathers, black bill and legs and pink feet. There are 6 species of stork in the world but the Woodstork is the only one to breed in the U.S. They feed by submersing their bills in the water and grabbing prey including small fish, amphibians and reptiles when they touch its bill. The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve located across the street from where I spotted these birds is an 11 mile wetland swamp and hardwood forest where Woodstorks generally nest and call home.

The Roseate Spoonbill is distinguished by its bright pink color and bill that is shaped like a spatula. They are wading birds like the Woodstock and feed on small fish and other organisms. They have very sensitive nerve endings on their bill which they swish back and forth in the water until a fish comes in contact with it. The Roseate Spoonbill was once prized and hunted for their feathers but it is illegal to hunt them now. They have made a comeback in numbers and are not on the endangered list but still are listed on the Florida “threatened” list. There are two websites that I like which give detailed information about these birds. One is the “Birds of North America” by Cornell University. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also always has good information about birds and other wildlife.

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