Florida: Birds Pretty in Pink!

Spoonbill Walking

Spoonbill Walking

Spoonbill Pose

Spoonbill Pose

Spoonbill Feeding

Spoonbill Feeding

Spoonbill Wing Stretch

Spoonbill Wing Stretch

Flamingo Light Pink

Flamingo Light Pink

Flamingo Light Pink Closeup

Flamingo Light Pink Closeup

Backlit Flamingo

Backlit Flamingo

Flamingo Dark Pink

Flamingo Dark Pink

Flamingo's Dark Pink Feathers

Flamingo’s Dark Pink Feathers

Flamingo Face

Flamingo Face

Flamingo Feeding

Flamingo Feeding

Florida has two large pink birds that you might see when visiting – spoonbills and flamingos. Both get their pretty pink color from carotenoids in the shrimp and algae they eat.  The more carotenoids they eat, the pinker they get!  Flamingos are pink all the way through – even their skin, blood, and egg yolks are tinged pink!  

Roseate spoonbills are named for their spatulate-shaped bills – they are the pink bird you will see in the wild. Spoonbills feed by touch, and swing their bills back and forth through the water to find food. Their sensitive bills instantly snap shut on small fish, insects, and crustaceans. They can be found throughout the state, especially near coastal mangroves in central and southern Florida. Places we’ve seen spoonbills include Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (in the mangroves along Black Point Drive); Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge; nesting in the wild at both the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Gatorland (in Kissimmee); and various other places including the Viera Wetlands, Orlando Wetlands, and the Sarasota/Tampa area.

Flamingos are usually seen in formal exhibits, but a wild group of 147 birds was discovered living in western Palm Beach County in May 2014. It is believed they migrated from their native breeding range in the Caribbean and Mexico. Long ago there had been a small breeding population deep in the Everglades, so scientists hope the birds get reestablished in the state.  A flamingo feeds by holding its bristle-lined bill upside down as a scoop to sieve out brine shrimp, algae, and other aquatic organisms from the water. Flamingos are an iconic symbol of Florida, and can be seen at many zoos, wildlife conservation centers, and theme parks (in summer they can be seen on their mud-cup nests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

Update March 2015:  The wild flamingos have returned to the Palm Beach County Storm Water Treatment Area 2 west of Miami!  Field trips are hosted by the Audubon Society of the Everglades (http://www.auduboneverglades.org/).

About Pam
Richard and Pam lived in the San Francisco Bay Area 14 years (1987-1999 and 2008-2011). They lived in Florida 13 years previously, until returning in July 2011 to present. They hope their photography will encourage you to get out and discover nature's beauty in your own backyard, parks, and wild places. Click on any pictures on this blog to see them full size with additional details.

12 Responses to Florida: Birds Pretty in Pink!

  1. mrsbearfoot says:

    Such beautiful, rich colors! I had no idea their feather color was due to their diet. I always learn something over here. 🙂

    Lindy

    • Pam says:

      It really is interesting. And the babies of both types of birds are born with white feathers. When the adult feathers grow in, the birds start eating a regular diet so they grow in pink. And the same thing applies to people. There are documented cases of a person eating so many carrots (which contains beta-carotene) that the skin gets an orangish hue.

  2. Kongo says:

    Pam, love the pink! Great captures

    • Pam says:

      I’ll look forward to your future pink pictures too! I’m glad you saw the El Galeon ship – the wood and cannons are really beautiful.

  3. LuAnn says:

    Fabulous photos! 🙂

  4. Ingrid says:

    Wonderful captures. We’ll be spending the winter along the TX Gulf Coast and I’m hoping to get in plenty of birding. Beautiful 🙂

    • Pam says:

      How exciting! Texas is one of the best places in the country for birds. You get some real unusual species down near the Rio Grande, such as the Green Jay. You’ll have a wonderful time!

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