Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja): Barry Kent MacKay

Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)

Formerly placed in its own genus (giving it the double-barreled scientific name, Ajaja ajaja, as seen in older books and references) is found from the southeastern U.S., south, through mostly coastal regions of much of the West Indies, Central and South America.   There are six species of spoonbills (related to the ibises) although the Roseate is the only one in the western hemisphere, and is also the most colourful, the adults, like the two in my oil painting, clearly living up to their common name.  All are tropical or subtropical in distribution.  The bare green head becomes yellowish-golden in breeding condition, and they have a tuft of pinkish-red feathers develop in the middle of the breast (still present in my birds, but diminished).   Males and females are alike. 

The pinkness of their plumage, because it is derived from ingestion of carotenoid pigments found in crustaceans, varies according not only to age and breeding condition, but diet.  They feed with sweeping motions, straining water out of the flattened, paddle-like beak and swallowing small organisms such as crustaceans; very small fish, reptiles and amphibians; and aquatic insects. The species can often be fairly easily seen in various sanctuaries and protected areas with swamps and mangroves in southern Florida.

This painting is approximately life size and was done in oils on a compressed wood panel that is about 30 X 24 inches.

Barry Kent MacKay

Bird Artist, Illustrator

Studio: (905) 472 9731

31 Colonel Butler Drive

Markham, ON L3P 6B6 Canada

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