PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Roseate Spoonbill, a nearly 3-foot-tall pink bird that looks like it stepped out of a cartoon, was recently sighted at the Heislerville Wildlife Management Area in Cumberland County. The species is native to Florida, which has some wondering if hurricane winds may have brought it north.
David La Puma, Director of NJ Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, says it’s not uncommon for southern species to be seen in the area.
“There’s actually been a number of Roseate Spoonbills to show up out of range this year,” La Puma said. “And on top of that, there have been things like White Ibis, as well as Wood Storks.”
Many appear to be young birds.
La Puma says Hurricane Harvey may have pushed some birds north, but it could also be range expansion.
“We could just be seeing wandering individuals. And we could be seeing signals of food shortage issues, and climate change effects,” he said. “These birds obviously are being impacted by rising sea levels and sinking marshes.”
La Puma says it’s complex — but one thing is simple.
“The beauty of it is, you can go out there and look at birds, and you can experience these vagrants in places where they’ve never been seen before,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to getting out and finally seeing this Roseate Spoonbill that everyone’s been talking about.”