Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Birdblogging




One of the exciting birds I saw on a boat trip out of Rockport, TX, in the Aransas area, the Roseate Spoonbill is one of the birds that seems almost too fantastic. A flight overhead was a high point of that day.

Unlike most birds, roseate spoonbills are silent and often solitary when they feed. They swish their spoon-shaped bills back and forth in the water to find small invertebrates, fish and crustaceans. During breeding season, the male uses gifts of nesting material to attract the female. Once mated, the pair remains monogamous. Both male and female take turns sitting on the eggs and feeding the young.

Spoonbills eat shrimp, shrimp eat algae, and the algae make their own red and yellow pigments, called carotenoids. Some scientists believe that the pink coloration that roseate spoonbills acquire as they mature is due to their diet of carotenoid-rich organisms like shrimp. The more they eat, the pinker they get.

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3 Comments:

Blogger lutton said...

Once, after a strong tropical storm blew up the east coast past New Jersey, we found one of these lovely creatures in the yard of our office in Philadelphia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Bittern

We're just a couple blocks from the Delaware River, but no one had ever seen such a bird around here before. I've always guessed that it either retreated from or was blown up from the Delaware Bay area due to the storm.

It was in our yard for a few hours, and would indeed become completely motionless when I came out to check on it. I was concerned that it might be hurt, but after a few hours it flew off towards the river and we've never seen another one.

It took us days of research to even figure out what kind of bird it was, but once we saw the picture, there was no question.

Check here - http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/American_Bittern.html - to hear the crazy sound the wiki article acurately describes as resembling "a congested pump."

7:33 AM  
Anonymous larry, dfh said...

Salmon are pink for the same reason. A friend used to clone the pigment genes into the yeast they were growing for commercial salmon chow. So you end up with a fish that's unnaturally pink, with flabby, fatty flesh, and full of antibiotics.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Those bitterns show up at the Assateague Wildlife Refuge, neat birds, glad you had a visit.

Larry, you just ruint salmon for me.

9:50 AM  

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