Last Saturday, I decided to check on the Black Skimmers on Sand Dollar Island and encountered the amazing wildlife present at Sand Dollar Island. What do you call a group of Roseate Spoonbills? A BOWL of spoonbills!
Roseate Spoonbills are often confused with another large pink wading bird: The Flamingo.
Did you know that there are six species of spoonbills in the world but the Roseate Spoonbill is the only one with pink plumage? You will often find them foraging on the shallows of the lagoon. As they forage, they make strange guttural noise. We saw a BOWL of spoonies napping with their heads tucked under their wings. A roseate spoonbill does not usually sit or lie down when asleep and instead stands often with one long leg tucking its head under its wing.
Being highly social as well, you will find spoonbills in the company of other wading birds such as the White Ibis. It one of the most numerous wading birds in Florida. On Marco, you will find the White Ibis in groups wading through the shallows, probing for food with their long bills. We found them in the company of the egrets usually following the White Ibis hoping to catch food stirred up by the Ibises. White Ibis make a harsh nasal honk while foraging. A group of Ibises has many collective names including “a stand,” a “wedge” or a congregation of Ibises.
We are happy to report that the Black Skimmer Colony—about 600 of them—are busy re–nesting on Sand Dollar Island. You will hear them before you see the colony. We saw a few chicks sheltered under their mom’s protective wings. If you get too close to the posted area, an adult black skimmer will call out loudly and do a “mock” dive-bomb—a signal that you need to back off. Best to keep your distance outside the posted nesting area. It is recommended that you stay at least 300 feet from a posted nesting area.
Avoid intentionally flushing or forcing the nesting birds to fly or run. If chicks are left out in the sun too long, they are vulnerable to heat or predators such as crows.
On your visit to Sand Dollar Island, I suggest that you bring binoculars to observe and enjoy the abundant “birdorables” from a distance. And please, respect the wildlife and leave only your footprints behind.