LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Ark. Game & Fish) -- This week Sarah Baxter with Arkansas Game & Fish talks about the roseate spoonbill.
This is a large wading bird with a very small range in the United States. The Roseate Spoonbill is named, obviously, for both its color and its bill shape. It uses its odd-shaped bill to strain fish and crustaceans out of fresh and coastal waters. Its pink coloration comes from feeding on crustaceans which have been feeding on algae.
Adults have a pink body, fading to a pale white head, and juveniles have a similar color pattern but are allover paler. Many people confuse this bird for the more familiar, though not native to Arkansas, American Flamingo.
The Roseate Spoonbill has a year-round range in Central to Northern South America. Many winter along the coasts of Central America, and can be found year-round along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. They can be found in extreme southern Arkansas, primarily southeast Arkansas, in Fall and are listed as a "rare visitor".
Birders can spot them in aquatic habitats from early July to late October, but they are very hit or miss - you never can count on definitely seeing them at any given spot during any given week! Preferred habitats include drained fish ponds, mud flats, large reservoirs with shallow water, and river banks. The Mississippi River levee from about Desha County south is a great spot to look for this bird, as well as Choctaw Island WMA and Lake Chicot.
If you don't see any on your first trip out, don't give up! Going back to the exact same spot the next week may prove very fruitful!