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Rare pink bird appears in Wisconsin for the first time in 178 years

By Mariana La Roche

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    GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (WISN) — A roseate spoonbill was spotted at the Ken Euers Nature Area, a 116-acre bird watcher’s paradise in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This is a rare sighting in Wisconsin. The rose-colored bird with a wide and flat bill is usually found in South American marshes, Central America and the southern U.S.

This is the first living roseate spoonbill spotted in Wisconsin. In 1845, 178 years ago, a dead roseate spoonbill was spotted in Rock County.

Birdwatchers drove from far away to see the young roseate spoonbill.

The youngest birdwatcher, 15-year-old Sylvia Toebe from Kewaunee, has always been surrounded by wildlife and birds.

“When I first heard about the spoonbill, I was in Milwaukee visiting with my sister. I knew I just had to see it. The restoration efforts of the Fox River and Lake Michigan must be paying off. Not so long ago, pelicans didn’t even come as far as Green Bay. This must mean the fish are finally safe enough for them to consume,” said Toebe.

Jon Bartell said birdwatching is his hobby. He drove from Plymouth, hoping to get a glimpse of the spoonbill. “I was thrilled to hear that we have such a unique opportunity to see such a beautiful bird in our area. I thought if it was still there, I would take a drive to see it. I wasn’t disappointed!” Bartell said.

The American Bird Association says Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork sightings in the United States Northeast and Midwest are a trend to watch as climate change alters the ecosystems of the southeastern U.S.

Spoonbill sightings have been more frequent in the northern states and provinces in recent years, with sightings in Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Ohio, as well as in Beauce-Sartigan, Québec.

Kevin Welsh, a biologist with the Audubon Everglades Science Center, studies the breeding success of Roseate Spoonbill in southern Florida. Welsh noted that the photos of vagrant spoonbills he has seen so far have been juveniles.

He said that he and his colleagues think the birds are moving north “mostly due to rising water levels here in the southern peninsula in Florida. They’re losing ideal foraging habitat for them to be able to get the young birds to reach fledgling age,” Welsh said.

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