Endangered Roseate Spoonbill finds new home at Jungle Island

Rare bird took refuge at Jungle Island while recovering from hurt wing

By Ben Kennedy - Reporter

MIAMI - At first glance you might think this little guy is a flamingo, but in fact it is a Roseate Spoonbill that has taken up refuge in South Florida's Jungle Island.

The rare bird was first a visitor to Jungle Island a couple of weeks ago, as it recovered from a hurt wing. It later took off, only to return soon after, setting up shop inside an exhibit.

"It's a migratory bird, still extremely endangered," said a Jungle Island employee. "Roughly a thousand pairs are breeding in Florida which sounds like a lot, but you have to understand, 100 years ago there were 40-50 thousand breeding pairs."

Like the American Flamingo, the Spoonbill's pink color is diet-derived. In fact, depending on what it eats, its feathers could turn to a bright majenta. It's because of their bright colors that many poachers have killed spoonbills for their feathers, which are sometimes used in women's fans.

"It's a definite contrast to the flamingos and they always find someone who says, ‘what is that bird?' ‘Is it supposed to be here?' ‘It's really cool.'"

The unique bird is native to South America, but will now continue to live at Jungle Island.

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