Since the flamingo is one of Florida’s famous trademarks, visitors often think they will see them flying overhead here or prancing around our beaches. Well, we hate to break it to you, but the only flamingoes you are probably going to see in the Sarasota area are at Jungle Gardens. If you want to see Florida’s TRUE pink bird, start looking for one the Roseate Spoonbill. The spoonbill is just as pink as a flamingo but even cooler because of his unusual spoon-shaped bill.
The roseate spoonbill is a large wading bird. They are not as tall (or as long-legged) as the flamingo but their body is just as hefty. Their body is light pink and the tip of their wings are a bright reddish pink. These wading birds are usually found in marshy ponds, mangrove areas and even canals, so it is unlikely that you will see them around the sandy beach area, they are more likely to be near the bay. They tend to be seen in shallow muddy areas where they use their bill to catch insects and crustaceans. It is fun to watch them go “fishing” – they stick their “spoon” underwater and continuously move it from side to side.
Here are the top places to see the roseate spoonbill in Florida, specifically in the Sarasota/Bradenton area.
Roseate Spoonbils at Robinson Preserve
With 487-acres of protected wetlands, this nature preserve has a vast amount of places where you may find roseate spoonbills. For the best places to see spoonbills, take the 2.1-mile Spoonbill Trail (aptly named!). Along this trail you will find several pond and muddy areas where you may see the spoonbills looking for their dinner. Robinson Preserve is a great place for Florida bird-watching including blue herons, egrets and the yellow-crowned night heron.
1704 99th St. NW
Bradenton, FL 34209
Roseate Spoonbills at Emerson Point Preserve
Another nature preserve in Manatee County that is a fantastic spot to see spoonbills is Emerson Point Preserve in Palmetto. The North Restoration Trail is your best bet for potential roseate sightings. This trail goes along Terra Ceia Bay – the mangroves and mucky waters along the hike are a spoonbill’s dream. If you are interested in bird-watching in general, this park has plenty of duck boxes that are always good for birdwatching.
Emerson Point Preserve
5801 17th St. W.
Palmetto, FL 34221
Roseate Spoonbills at Longboat Key Club
This is not the kind of spot you would think would be on the list, but we always spot Roseate Spoonbills standing in the Golf Club Ponds that you can see from Gulf of Mexico Dr. Just drive on by and you are likely to see these pink-hued beauties wading close to the roadside.
Longboat Key Club
220 Sands Point Rd.
Longboat Key, FL 34228