Tuesday, July 27, 2021

ROSEATE SPOONBILLS AT HUNTLEY MEADOWS IN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

I am very happy that we got to see these extraordinary wading birds.  This is a very unusual sighting and many birders have visited the park.  (Our visit was last Friday, July 23rd, 2021.) 

We arrived just after 9.00 a.m. and walked through the wood that takes us to the boardwalk.  The boardwalk crosses the marsh area.  All we had to do was follow the photographers.  There were those heading out of the park, and I asked one lady if she had seen the Spoonbills.  She had and told me to look for the other photographers.  

The birds were not close but Gregg got great photos and we were very happy with them.  We saw several photographers with longer lenses than we had, and their photos are probably the ones we have been seeing on Instagram.  There was another line of long lenses behind me as I took this photo.

In the United States, the Roseate Spoonbill can be found in southern Florida, coastal Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Their breeding range extends south from Florida through the Greater Antilles to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Roseate Spoonbills usually live in marsh-like areas and mangroves, and for a short spell at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.  Color us pink and very happy!
I have another post on this bird that I shared last week.  You can click here if you missed it.  It has more information.  I took those photos on a trip to Florida.  Gregg took most of these.
Originally I was told by one of the photographers, that there had been three Spoonbills, but no one had sighted the third for several days.  We only saw two.
Having read that they are very social, we were not surprised to see them looking comfortable in the presence of a small flock of Canada Geese, and a family of ducks.
Its mate was out of view of these photos.
A female lays a clutch of one to five eggs. Both parents share incubation duties, which last about 22 to 24 days. A newly hatched chick has mostly pink skin with a sparse covering of white down.  After one month, the chick will begin to exercise by clambering through the branches or foliage surrounding the nest, and by six weeks it will have developed wing feathers large enough for flight.
They can live up 10 years in the wild. 
Roseate Spoonbills have an interesting gait.  When they walk they swing their head back and forth in a sideways motion.
  • The light colored Roseate Spoonbills are the younger generation and they will darken as they mature.
Roseate Spoonbills will feed in both fresh and saltwater during the early morning and evening, competing with larger birds such as egrets, herons, and pelicans.  I have seen egrets and herons here but not pelicans.  Who knows what will turn up at the park.  I never thought we would see the Spoonbill.  
They will slowly walk with their beaks dipped into the water slightly open, allowing their bill to easily sift through the mud. Using their sense of touch more than sight, the Spoonbill will scoop up crustaceans, insects, newts, some plants, and more. Similar to flamingos, the canthaxanthin and astaxanthin in the Spoonbill diet causes their pink coloration!
We watched from a distance as a waddling march of young mallards made their way across the marsh.  They were very cute and I will have more photos of these ducks in another post.
The Spoonbill can be seen nearest the water with the Canada Geese resting nearby.
I have a few more photos and will share them soon.   For the most part this is all for now on the Roseate Spoonbill.  I am not sure how long they will be here but my goodness, I am so happy we were able to see them.  

If you would like to see great photos, you can find those if you click on this link.  It is an article by Alexandria Living Magazine.   If the link doesn't work for you, you can use the actual address following: 



In the article it says that a recent tropical storm in the southeast may have sent many birds flying for safer locales.

Thanks for looking and I hope the rest of your week is a great one.




42 comments:

  1. You got great photos! I have never seen one in person. So they just flew into Virginia by themselves, I had no idea!!

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    1. Thank you Ginny :) Yes, they just flew in. Eileen said there are lots of sightings of them in places not normally seen. I read an article that they had made it to Michigan this morning.

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  2. How wonderful that you saw them - and the photos are great.

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    1. Thank you Sue, it was very exciting to see them :)

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  3. They certainly are a lovely colour.
    Photos are excellent.

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  4. It must have been exciting to see spoonbills in Huntley Meadows Park. They look right at home is a habitat where they can rest and feed. Great photos!

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    1. Hello Linda, it seems like a perfect setting for them. Thank you :)

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  5. Wow, there were a lot of photographers there. Those are some popular spoonbills. Great photos, I enjoyed seeing these. I just love their color

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    1. Hi Ann, yes there were and they kept coming and going all the time we were there. They are a very pretty color :)

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  6. Hello Denise,
    I am happy you could see the Roseate Spoonbills at Huntley Meadows. They have been showing up everywhere now, some in Pennsylvania, Maryland and at Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware. They are a pretty color, great looking birds. I heard there were some Whistling Ducks and a Little Egret around too. Great collection of photos. Take care, have a happy day!

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    1. Thank you for the info Eileen, good to know. I would like to see those Whistling Ducks and Little Egret. I seem to remember someone spotted Whistling Ducks at our park not long ago, but didn't see any when we were there. I'd love to see a Little Egret again. You take care and have a happy day also :)

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    1. They are but also beautiful to see :) Thanks William!

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  8. They look like flamingos, interesting about their diet causing the pink colour.

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    1. Thanks Christine :) I remember being surprised when I first found out about flamingos.

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  9. Amazing birds and great photos. A great adventure.

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  10. Your photos are absolutely beautiful and I can imagine the excitement and why all the photographers are hanging out taking photos. Even though they are common here when we see them we all go crazy. What a great outing

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    1. Gregg took great photos didn't he? I loved seeing the Spoonbills in Florida on our last trip. Thanks Sandra :)

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  11. What a great sighting and fantastic photos too! They are such interesting and pretty birds.

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    1. Thank you Martha, it certainly was wonderful to see them :)

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  12. Throughout these many storms and fires, I have wondered where the creatures go that must escape to safety. Perhaps these beautiful Spoonbills found a home at Huntley Meadows and will provide many more opportunities for viewing pleasure!

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    1. I have wondered the same Penelope. I'm happy we could provide some shelter for these beautiful birds. Thank you :)

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  13. How exciting for you and your husband to view the spoonbills on their visit to the park! They are so interesting and not like most birds we are accustomed to seeing here. Thank you for sharing your lovely photos, Denise and Gregg.

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    1. Thank you Martha Ellen and I will pass your thanks onto Gregg also :)

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  14. A very interesting bird . I'm glad that you got another look at it and gave us lots of info on it.

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    1. Thanks Red, I feel very fortunate that we were able to go to the park. I hope they are there for a while for others to enjoy :)

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  15. I have yet to see one of these in real life. Your photos are beautiful -- and so are the birds!

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    1. Thanks Jeanie, I hope you get to see them one day :)

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  16. Hello Denise,
    Superb series of images of these beautiful Roseate Spoonbills, a bird I have never seen or likely too in the UK.
    Best wishes,
    John

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    1. Hello John, thank you so much :) It is a beautiful bird and one I didn't think I would see so close to home. It is very unusual :)

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  17. What a wonderful sight. Glad you could get in on the photo action.

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  18. i have heard there was one in southern new jersey, but i have never seen one!! what a beauty, such a pretty shade of pink!! greg got a few good shots of the "spoon"!!

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    1. That's another place then? How wonderful that so many are getting to see them . I will pass that on to Gregg, LOL :)

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  19. What an adorable bird! I have never heard about this bird before! Thanks for information and great photos! Big Hugs!

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    1. Hi MLC :) Happy to introduce you to this beautiful bird. You are very welcome and thank you :) Big hugs from me also xo

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  20. Interesting post, and beautiful photos. That park looks like a great place to visit with your camera. Your shots are tempting me to visit. I don't think it would take more than an hour and a half for me to get there from here.

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    1. Thank you Granny :) If you ever get out there I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. It's an oasis in a very busy area and we have made the journey many times, but it doesn't take as long for us to get out there, about 45 minutes.

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