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Name

  • Common Name (English): Roseate spoonbill
  • Scientific Name: Platalea ajaja

Etymology

The generic name Platalea and the specific epithet ajaja come from the work of Marcgraf (1648) on the birds of Brazil. This name was apparently given to the Palette Heron by the people of some regions of Brazil.

The Palette Heron is a wading bird that measures 71 to 81cm. It has a large greenish-yellow spatula-shaped bill. The head is devoid of feathers. The neck, throat, back and breast are white. The rest of the body is pink, with the shoulders a strong red. The long legs are the same colour as the bill. Juveniles are white. These birds are found from the southern United States to Uruguay, including the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and Margarita.

In Venezuela it is widely distributed, and is found up to 3500m elevation, making local migrations between the Maracaibo Lake basin and the western plains. It inhabits wetlands, marshes, estuaries, lagoons, riverbanks and swamps of the lowlands and warm lands throughout the country. At present, this range has decreased and its population has been reduced, as has that of many waterfowl, due to the drying up of some bodies of water.

These birds are diurnal and usually live alone or in small groups. Their bill serves as an excellent fishing tool: they dip it in the water and move it from side to side, forming small currents to attract fish, molluscs, shrimp and insect larvae.

Palette herons build their cup-shaped nests 1-5m above the ground, among the vegetation near the water with materials they find in the surroundings. The clutch consists of 2-4 white eggs with brown spots. Although they nest in small groups, they can also reproduce in large colonies.

Facts

  • Sex: no sexual dimorphism.
  • Diet: small reptiles, amphibians and insects.
  • Reproduction: no data.
  • Nest: cup-shaped, upholstered with vegetation.
  • Distribution: wide distribution, and up to 3500m elevation.

 

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