Since the flamingo is one of Florida’s trademarks, visitors often think they will see them prancing around our beaches. Well, we hate to break it to you, but the only flamingos 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 the Roseate Spoonbill. The spoonbill is just as pink as a flamingo—but even cooler because of its unusual spoon-shaped bill.
The roseate spoonbill is a large wading bird. It’s are not as tall or as long-legged as the flamingo, but its body is just as hefty. Roseate spoonbills’ bodies are 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’s 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 unique bills 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, and 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 spots where you may see roseate spoonbills. For the best chance, take the aptly named 2.1-mile Spoonbill Trail. Along this trail you will find several pond and muddy areas where you may see the spoonbills looking for their dinners. Robinson Preserve is a great place for other Florida bird-watching, too, including blue herons, egrets and the yellow-crowned night heron.
Robinson Preserve, 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 Drive. Just cruise on by and you are likely to see these pink-hued beauties wading close to the roadside.
Longboat Key Club, 220 Sands Point Road, Longboat Key, FL 34228