Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have photos of a lovely bird by reader Paul Peed, whose words are indented:

These images are from late in the breeding season at the Roseate Spoonbill, Heron and Egret rookery.  Located in T.M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area in Brevard and Indian River County, Florida. More images are available at Instagram and Ebird.

Feeding time for Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) recently fledged.  Two rather insistent juveniles, roughly 2 months old, and one patient adult.

The most aggressive and insistent of the two juveniles:

This individual is probably a male. It’s interesting that “stick collecting” behavior begins so very early.  Male Roseate Spoonbills present a potential female mating partner with a stick which the female takes in her bill and shakes to signify her consent.  Other sources say the male does not present a stick until after they are paired for the season.

JAC: I guess the stick has to be selected carefully! Somebody should research the characteristic of “successful” versus “unsuccessful” sticks: species, length, girth, etc.

Adult joins juvenile:


. . . and they begin to aggressively snap their bills and poke at the adult’s bill

The juveniles continue to beg.  Snapping, poking and flapping

Finally, it’s dinner time!

20 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I’m struck by the intense red eye of the parent. The feeding behavior is very similar in great blue heron.

  2. Wow!

    “Adult joins juvenile” captures the power and elegance of the animal in flight- stunning!

  3. Those juveniles seem awfully large to still be begging for food. Are they “programmed” to stop at a certain point, of only when the parent get’s tired of it all?

    1. My guess is the young will freeload as long as the parents cooperate. In the case of pileated woodpeckers, I watched a juvenile follow closely around the bark of a tree begging his dad for some ants while dad simply ignored him. The little guy did some haphazard drilling for ants on his own, so I knew he was capable. I assumed the time of free handouts was about over.

    2. I agree with rickflick — that even though the juveniles can feed on their own, they’ll beg for food as long as the parents give in. For approximately the past 2 1/2 weeks, I’ve been amused by a juvenile crow, damned near as big as an adult andclearly able to find food on its own (I’ve seen it doing so) begging for food from its parents as if it’s at the point of expiring of hunger and being tortured at the same time. It usually sits on a certain branch of a tree outside my window and squawks pitiably until the adults give in and bring food back to the big old baby. It’s so funny.

      I see other birds doing the same, but I wonder about crows because when I sought information about this behavior in crows, I also learned that young crows sometimes live in the nest with their parents for a long time, sometimes over a year (sounds like the avian equivalent of slackers living in their parents’ basement). But I don’t know how long this behavior persists. I also read that these offspring crows will help feed their younger siblings. And sometimes they build their own nests in close proximity to the parents’ nest, so it’s kind of like an extended family. Perhaps someone who knows crow behavior can correct me or add additional information.

      1. BTW. Great photos. Love those spoonbills. But for such big birds they make tiny noises.

    3. Based on observations at the Spoonbill rookery at T.M. Goodwin and in the surrounding marshes I speculate adults stop feeding young as soon as the juvenile is capable of strong flight. This seems to be 55-60 days. At this point the juveniles are approximately 2/3 of their final adult size.

      In the 5 years I have monitored this rookery very closely, I have never observed a juvenile being fed by an adult at any significant distance from the island rookery.

      In summary, the parent stops feeding the young when they leave home.


  4. Beautiful shots! Seeing the chick shove that broad beak down its’ mothers throat is interesting.

  5. Thanks for all the kind comments. It is a real pleasure to observe these beautiful birds closely.

    Paul Peed

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