Roseate spoonbill, not seen in Wisconsin since 1845, lands in Green Bay

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Wisconsin bird watchers have flocked to a Green Bay nature area for a gander at a bird not seen in Wisconsin for almost 180 years.

A roseate spoonbill (pronounced “ro-see-ate”) arrived on the shores of Green Bay on July 26 and continues to draw Wisconsin bird watchers and curious onlookers almost a week later.

The bird’s light pink feathers and flattened, spoon-shaped bill help it stand out among the egrets and other shoreline birds that populate the Cat Island restoration area and Ken Euers Nature Area, on Green Bay’s northwest side.

Roseate spoonbills are a shoreline bird that sweeps their uniquely shaped bills through fresh- or saltwater to feed on crustaceans or fish. They are one of six spoonbill species in the world and the only one found in the Americas, according to All About Birds. Juveniles tend to have lighter pink plumage that turns a much more striking color of pink as they age.

While common in parts of Florida, Texas, Central America and South America, Wisconsin birdwatchers say this is the first time a living roseate spoonbill has been spotted in Wisconsin.


Observations indicate a dead roseate spoonbill was spotted in Rock County in 1845 — 178 years ago.

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A roseate spoonbill pictured at Ken Euers Nature Area on July 31, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. The bird, common in Florida, Texas and South America, hasn't been seen in Wisconsin in 178 years.

‘I’ve been on cloud nine for days now’

Green Bay-area resident Logan Lasee first spotted the roseate spoonbill Wednesday morning while working a volunteer shift monitoring endangered piping plovers in the Cat Island restoration area. He drove past another piping plover monitoring area, saw the pink plumage and knew he’d spotted something unique.

He called others, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Jade Arneson and his fellow bird watcher Tom Prestby, to confirm what he saw. In between following the spoonbill and poring through records, Lasee said it became clear he landed his first “mega-rarity,” in his time as a bird watcher.

“I’ve been on cloud nine for days now,” Lasee said. “I check almost every day now to see if it’s still around. I’ve had people who knew I’m the guy who found it come up to me. I felt kind of like a celebrity the last few days.”

The roseate spoonbill flew away as storms approached Wednesday morning. Lasee, Prestby and others said the bird did not reappear on Thursday or Friday, leading them to worry it had already moved on. But early Saturday morning, another person spotted it in Ken Euers Nature Area and word quickly spread through the tight-knit birding community.

Lasee estimates 100 to 150 people visited the nature area on Saturday to get a look at the roseate spoonbill, including visitors from Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton.

Source: Roseate spoonbill, not seen in Wisconsin since 1845, lands in Green Bay

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