Ajaja ajaja

ajajaajajaThe roseate spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja) is a sometimes tautonym (it goes by Platalea ajaja too).  As far as tautonyms go this is one of the very best.  It’s like they’re laughing en español.  Spoonbills are large colorful wading birds ranging from the coastal southern US to Argentina and into the West Indies. They look like weird flamingos with bald teal-ish heads and red beady eyes and yellow facial skin bordering their long paddle bills. They hang out in groups in marshy areas, heads down, sweeping their bills from side to side along the marsh floor in search of some nice crustaceans or small fish to eat.

They nest along with other wading birds in big colonies in mangroves.  Males and females both take care of the young and are preeeeetty monogamous across a season.  The babies start out fuzzy and whitish with floppy bills that look tough to hold up with their wiggly little necks.

POWERFACT! Spoonbills owe their good looks in part to algae.  They eat crustaceans, which eat algae, which make carotenoids, the compounds that give the spoonbills (and the flamingo) their pink hue.  People liked their feather color so much that they hunted them close to extinction in the late 1800s. Luckily they got protected in the 1940s and are now doing pretty ok. The biggest threat facing spoonbills and other marsh birds is habitat loss due to pollution and coastal development. So let’s keep it clean and cool it on the marsh development!

References: Smithsonian National ZooTexas Parks and WildlifeNational Audubon Society

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One Response to Ajaja ajaja

  1. Pingback: Young spoonbill, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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