The roseate spoonbill is a sociable bird, and is known to feed, roost and fly in formation with others of its kind (2) (3). It nests singly or in pairs, almost always in trees overhanging water, sometimes on small islands (2) (3). The nest is usually built by the female with material collected by the male (2) (5). The male roseate spoonbill becomes aggressive and territorial during the breeding season, defending its area against intruders (3) (5). Copulation takes place in the nest, and the female lays a clutch of between one and five eggs (3) (5). Eggs are incubated for about 24 days by both the male and female (2) (5). Hatchlings are fat with salmon-pink skin covered in sparse white down (5). They are fed by partial regurgitation, and may leave the nest after two to three weeks to form groups with other hatchlings, but will return to the adults to be fed (2). Roseate spoonbill fledglings leave the nest for good after 35 to 42 days, and perfect their flight after 49 to 56 days (5). They are thought to start breeding after three years, once full plumage has been developed, although breeding as early as two years old has been recorded (3) (5). The roseate spoonbill is seasonally monogamous, but is not known to keep the same breeding partner year after year (5). This species is thought to have a lifespan of between eight and ten years (5). The oldest known roseate spoonbill reached 16 years of age (2).
The roseate spoonbill feeds in groups, in both fresh and marine shallow waters(3) (4) (5). It feeds by walking slowly through the water, swinging its distinctive spoon-shaped bill from side to side (3). The bill has sensitive nerve endings, allowing it to detect when it comes into contact with prey and snap shut (3) (5). This species is known to shake and beat prey against hard surfaces to break shells and facilitate swallowing and digestion if necessary (3). The roseate spoonbill generally feeds on a range of aquatic animals including small fish, crustaceans and insects (3).
The roseate spoonbill will sleep standing, usually on one leg, with its head buried beneath back and shoulder feathers. The female is also able to rest when lying down during incubation. It is generally a silent bird, although it is known to make calls during breeding displays and when flying (3).