A Roseate Spoonbill was recently spotted at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge during a post-Christmas Bird Count, per an announcement from the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society (CWRS).
“This Roseate Spoonbill…has been hanging around the impoundments at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge for several weeks now, and conveniently showed up again in time for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count on December 28,” stated CWRS in an update. “A southern species, breeding in Florida and points south, they use the odd, spoon-shaped bill to sweep from side to side in shallow water in their quest for food.
“It is anyone’s guess as to why this spoonbill is on the Outer Banks – particularly in winter!”
The Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) is not seen along the Outer Banks very often, but when they do pass through the region, they add a beautiful splash of color. They are mostly found in southern Florida, the Caribbean, coastal Mexico, and South America, which makes this feathered Pea Island visitor a rare sighting.
The Roseate Spoonbill is not the only recent pink addition to the refuge, as several pink flamingos that made a September 4 appearance after Hurricane Idalia were reportedly still hanging around the outskirts of Pea Island as of November 2023.
Like flamingos, the Roseate Spoonbills get their coloring from the aquatic invertebrates and crustaceans that they eat. Of the six worldwide spoonbill species, the Roseate Spoonbill is the only one found in North America, per the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society.
With the winter season in full swing, and many wintering waterfowl flocking to the Outer Banks, it’s an ideal time to make a trip to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to see what other feathered visitors may make an appearance.
Expanding for 13 miles on the northern end of Hatteras Island, the refuge is home to more than 365 species of animals on a year-round or temporary basis. Of the species within the refuge, 315 are birds, 34 are fish, 32 are reptiles and amphibians, 21 are terrestrial mammals, eight are marine mammals, and 20 are other aquatic organisms.
How to Visit:
A good starting point to explore the refuge is the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, which connects with the North Pond Wildlife Trail, immediately behind the parking area.
Wildlife trails within the refuge are open year-round during daylight hours, and are fully disabled-accessible. Neither pets nor bicycles are allowed on walking trails, and more information can be found at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/pea_island/visit/visitor_activities/wildlife_trails.html.
For more information on happenings within the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and beyond, visit https://www.facebook.com/USFWS.NC.
The Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society is the official non-profit support group for National Wildlife Refuges in Eastern North Carolina Information below was released by USFWS and is available on their website at #NCRefuges News