The Roseate Spoonbill, once a bird that stuck pretty close to home, is becoming a roaming vagabond.
Forced from South Florida by rising sea levels, deteriorating water quality and poor nesting conditions, hundreds of Spoonbills moved first up both coasts of Florida. Now they’re testing out fresh territories in almost every mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast state.
They’re turning up in bays and wetlands along the coasts as well as near inland cities and suburbs where they can be a startling sight for unsuspecting birders. Researchers say these forays often lead to nesting colonies in new locations that solidifies their arrival.
“Once they’ve found a new place, it’s only a matter of time before they’re nesting there,’’ said Dr. Jerry Lorenz, director of research at Audubon Florida and the nation’s leading Spoonbill expert.
With pinkish red plumage and gawky form reminiscent of their dinosaur lineage, the spoonbills have great popular appeal, which is expanding as their reach spreads out. Our package last year on the spoonbill’s move north into Georgia and South Carolina was among the best-read Flying Lesson’s posts ever.