Ajaja is the scientific name defining the roseate spoonbill.
Dazzling at a distance and rather peculiar up close, plume hunters nearly purged Roseate Spoonbills from the US in the mid- and late-1800s. Their feathers were fashioned into fans by Native Americans and later used indiscriminately as ornamentation by early colonists. Happily, in today’s world, the species is recovering!
Sensitive to chilly weather, Spoonbills have always been more common in Florida, Texas, and southwest Louisiana, but their numbers are growing at quite a clip in the coastal marshes of SC. This is probably because of climate change. Whatever the reason, they are fascinating birds to have around.
It is a joy to witness Spoonbills in action. At the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Reserve, and farther north at Huntington Beach State Park, they nest in colonies on coastal islands and forage in tidal ponds and marshes. In their elegant pink attire, they prance about elegantly swinging their heads side to side, sifting the muck with their wide flat bills. Not surprisingly, they are the delight of birdwatchers, photographers, and nature lovers.
There are opportunities at the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center (YWC) to witness these lovely birds in their natural habitat. Barring unforeseen situations, YWC frequently hosts birding excursions through the property’s various habitats. To check the availability of these popular guided tours, contact The Center by email at WhamP@DNR.SC.gov, or by phone at (843)546-6814. Their Facebook page is generally current, as well, and there is lots there to see and learn!
Roseate Spoonbills are highly social. They feed together and with other wading birds. The collective noun for spoonbills is BOWL. Keep an eye out wherever you go in our Lowcountry, and you are likely to see a BOWL of Roseate Spoonbills.