Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Roseate Spoonbill

Ajaia ajaja

Roseate spoonbills are so-called for their rosy plumage and long, flat spoon-shaped bill. They inhabit both fresh water and saltwater wetlands in the southern states of Florida, Louisiana and Texas. They are medium sized birds – weighing up to 4 pounds – with a wingspan of 50 inches, or over 4 feet!

Range & Habitat

Southern coastal waters of the United States, extending southward through Central and South America.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

They are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act and considered a species “of special concern” in Florida.


In the Wild: small fish, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, insects and some plant material.

At the Zoo: Smelt, meat, flamingo food pellets, mixed grain diet.

Life Span

In the Wild – up to 10 years
In Human Care – 12-15 years.

Fun Facts about the Roseate Spoonbill

  •  Scientists believe that, like flamingos, the roseate spoonbill’s pink coloration is due to their diet of organisms containing carotene (an orange-yellow to red pigment) like shrimp.
  •  The roseate spoonbill is the only member of the genus Ajaia. The AOU (2002) (American Ornithologists’ Union) has recommended merging Ajaia into Platalea, the genus for the five other species of spoonbills, and several classification systems show it that way.
  •  The roseate spoonbill is the only spoonbill species that lives in the Western Hemisphere.


Honolulu Zoo Society, Roseate spoonbill.

Smithsonian National Zoo, Roseate Spoonbill.

Updated February 25, 2021