SustainAbility Newsletter

A Birding Experience - Roseate Spoonbill

By: Ronald G. Dodson | The Dodson Group LLC.

Roseate Spoonbill

I spent a couple of months working out of Dunedin, Florida this winter and nearly every morning I would take a walk, ending up traipsing through a bit of natural Florida called Hammock State Park.  While the Park is not huge by some sanctuary standards, it is a green oasis in the midst of urban growth.

The sounds of vehicular traffic fade into the distance and I walk the trails that are bordered by oaks that are festooned with Spanish moss.  Being in Florida and close to the Gulf, there are plenty of watery habitats in the park, including a couple of nice streams that meander their way through the greenery on their way to the Gulf of Mexico.  

Water, vegetation and Florida equal plenty of wildlife and that includes lots of birds.  Seeing birds while thinking about the fact that my Upstate New York home was covered in a couple of feet of snow, always made these walks more pleasant!

On 3 occasions while poking through the park I spied a pinkish colored bird either sitting on top of a decapitated, lone palm tree trunk or skulking along the side of one of the creeks in the distance.  Unlike the Egrets or Herons, who were not overly shy, these pinkish birds seem to always keep their distance and are just far enough away that even with binoculars I could really get a great look at them.  But, clearly their pinkish color and their odd shaped bill made mistaking the roseate spoonbill impossible.

The most distinctive characteristic of the roseate spoonbill is its long spoon-shaped bill. It has a white head and chest and light pink wings with a darker pink fringe and very long pink legs. The roseate spoonbill is about two and a half feet in length with a wingspan of about four and a half feet. Both males and females have the same plumage and coloring. The male is slightly larger than the female and its bill is a little longer.

The roseate spoonbill can be found on the coasts of Texas, Louisiana and southern Florida. It is also found in the tropics and in Central and South America.  The roseate spoonbill lives in mangrove swamps, tidal ponds, saltwater lagoons and other areas with brackish water.

The roseate spoonbill spends a lot of its time in shallow water feeding. It sweeps its open bill from side to side in the water to sift up food like small fish, shrimp, mollusks, snails and insects. It has touch receptors in its bill that help it feel its prey. Like the flamingo, the roseate spoonbill's pink color comes from the food it eats. Some of the crustaceans it eats feed on algae that give the spoonbill's feathers their rosy pink color.

The roseate spoonbill nests in colonies. Males and females pair off for the breeding season and build a nest together. They build large nests of sticks lined with grass and leaves. The nests are built in trees. The female spoonbill lays two to four eggs. Both the female and the male incubate the eggs. The chicks hatch in about three weeks and fledge in around 35 to 42 days. Both the male and female feed the chicks until they are about eight weeks old. Young roseate spoonbills have white feathers with a slight pink tinge on the wings. They don't reach maturity until they are three years old.

Roseate spoonbills are very social. They live in large colonies with other spoonbills, ibises, storks, herons, egrets and cormorants. Roseate spoonbills fly in flocks in long diagonal lines with their legs and neck stretched out. 

The roseate spoonbill population was once threatened by hunting. In the mid-to-late 1800s its feathers were used in ladies' hats and fans. The population was also threatened by loss of habitat due to drainage and pollution in its habitat. By the early 20th century, the population had shrunk to only a few dozen nesting pairs in the United States. Special protected areas were set aside for them and in the 1940s they were made a protected species. Over time the population recovered and today the roseate spoonbill is no longer a protected species.

Although I didn’t share my morning walks with the roseate spoonbill many times, they always added something special when they appeared.  There is something mystical about taking a winter walk through Spanish moss covered swamps and catching a glimpse of a pink bird sneaking along in  their watery and tropical world.




References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainability Campaign


American Society of Golf Course Architects

The United States Golf Association (USGA)

Sustainable Golf & Development

Turf Feeding Systems

National Geographic

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

The Risks for Businesses Who Don

CokeThe concept behind sustainability is as simple as it is compelling: resources may only be used at a rate at which they can be replenished.

When most people see the word "resources," they think immediately of natural resources. But in order to thrive, businesses actually need three types of resources: environmental (e.g., natural resources), social (including employees, customers and general societal goodwill) and economic (money).

In fact, these three factors comprise a common definition of business sustainability: increasing short- and long-term profitability by holistically managing economic, social and environmental risks and opportunities.

This definition is relevant both in times of recession and during economic growth periods, because the main drivers of sustainability don't change. These three factors have been the drivers of business success since mankind has been engaged in business endeavors. While sustainability may seem to run counter to the profit-maximizing doctrine of running a company, the concept of creating sustainable business processes is increasingly seen as a key to long-term success. 

Organizations can work toward sustainability in many ways, but to be truly effective sustainability initiatives cannot stand alone. They must transform the organization as a whole. This takes individual and coordinated efforts from all segments of a company.

Look at Sustainability Strategically

Nike, Coca-Cola, and Nestle are examples of companies that go about this strategically. They have figured out that if you do not change the way you operate -- and the way your supply chain operates -- you're potentially putting your entire business model at risk. They know that risk encompasses more than financial risk. If a company loses its societal mandate to do business then it faces as much risk as if it were struggling financially.

Nestle understands that to continue making very high-quality food products requires a planet that can produce a reliable supply of natural products. Its "Creating Shared Value" approach focuses on specific areas of the company's core business activities -- water, nutrition, and rural development.
Coca-Cola has been very aggressive around water development and protection, both for agriculture as well as in communities. Although the company does not own farms, it realizes that it has "significant opportunities within its global supply chain to develop and encourage more sustainable practices to benefit suppliers, customers and consumers."

Nike, which relies heavily on globally outsourced manufacturing operations, is working to increase its focus on sustainable business and innovation. It is integrating the concept across its business strategies to create a more sustainable approach aimed at providing greater returns to the company's business, communities, contract factory workers, consumers and the planet.



References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles

The International Sustainability Council  

The Reserve at Lake Keowee

The Old Collier Club

The Rim Golf Club




Energy Star 

The Village of Blume 

Taylor Properties Group  


National Geographic 

American Society of Golf Course Architects

The United States Golf Association (USGA)


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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

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Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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