18" x 30"
The sun had already set in the Everglades, imparting a soft, pink glow to the clouds and their reflections in the water. The spoonbills’ brilliant pink feathers needed no help to compete with the sun.
We saw this pair in the Everglades National Park where they were feeding in the shallows of the mangrove islands. Usually when we see spoonbills they are in large flocks, but this pair was alone. Perhaps they were a mating pair. Most species of spoonbills mate with a single partner each breeding season and choose a new partner for the next season.
A mangrove is not the name of a specific tree or shrub. It’s a name given to several plants that grow in shallow coastal salt water. The red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) is the dominant plant in this painting. Red Mangroves have what are called “prop roots” that grow out of the trunk and into the water. This growth pattern creates shallow water by trapping sand and mud so storms cannot wash it away. And the tangle of roots provides a safe habitat for the tiny organisms that are the Spoonbill’s food. Spoonbills feed in shallow water by sweeping their partly opened bill from side to side, snapping it shut when an insect, tiny fish, crab, or shrimp touches the inside of the bill.
“Prop roots” are clearly visible on the young red mangrove to the right side of the painting. It looks as though it is standing on stilts. In time, this little tree may be the beginning of a new island. On slightly higher ground, further from the water, the black and white mangroves thrive. We have painted them poking out of the top of the islands.