Bernadette Guilbert loves watching and photographing birds in and around her Boynton Beach home. She lives on a large lake and enjoys visits from many different birds, but one recent visitor, a Roseate Spoonbill resting on her john boat, caught her attention. She got out her camera and got some great shots.
After downloading and editing the photos, she spotted something on the bird’s back. She googled “Roseate Spoonbill tracking” and found Audubon’s story about the Roseate Spoonbill tracking study underway many miles away at Everglades Science Center.
“Perhaps this bird is one of the ten from the recent capture,” she wrote in her email with the photos.
It is, indeed, one of the birds outfitted with a telemetering device by Audubon scientists! According to senior biologist Alex Blochel, this Roseate Spoonbill named George (his sex was identified with a DNA test) was captured in Florida Bay on Jan 25, 2021, weighing 1.96 kg and with a bill length of 17.6 cm. The feathers and color indicate he is a young adult bird, probably about four years old.
Roseate Spoonbills use their flattened bills to forage in shallow water with muddy bottoms, in both salt and fresh water environments. Because this species is dependent upon specific hydrologic conditions in the Everglades, they can tell us about water levels and if restoration efforts are successful.
Blochel’s tracking data show that the bird has been spending quite a bit of time in Bernadette’s neighborhood. Prior to moving to the Boynton Beach area, he roosted southwest of Mahogany Hammock in Everglades National Park.
Data and analyses of Roseate Spoonbill movements can help guide decision-makers in restoration and water management decisions to improve important habitat for spoonbills and other wildlife.