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Researchers: Oldest Wild Spoonbill Found

May 4, 2006

TAVERNIER, Fla. (AP) _ Introducing Enrico, the granddaddy of all roseate spoonbills. Researchers with Audubon of Florida claimed Thursday they discovered the oldest wild roseate spoonbill on Tern Key, a 16-year-old bird they named Enrico.

``Enrico has more than doubled the known life expectancy of a Roseate Spoonbill, providing a new longevity record for the species,″ Audubon Research Director Jerry Lorenz said. ``The previously recorded known life span of a wild spoonbill was seven years.″

Researchers from the Tavernier Science Center recaptured Enrico in April to deploy a satellite telemetry transmitter on the bird.

They first observed the bird in 2004 at the colony and feeding in a lake, and saw it had an identification band on its leg. Researchers found Enrico was originally banded in 1990 by Drs. George Powell and Robin Bjork, former researchers of Audubon’s Tavernier Science Center on Tern Key. They noted Enrico ``was too young″ to fly.

Roseate spoonbills are long-legged wading birds that have spatula-shaped bills which help them feed in marshes, tidal ponds and other shallow water. Adults have white necks, pink bodies, and greenish heads, and they are often confused with flamingos. They are mostly found along the South Florida coast from the Florida Keys north to Tampa.

Audubon is following breeding spoonbills of Florida Bay to unidentified and undiscovered nesting and foraging sites, over migration paths that are currently unknown, the organization said in a statement.

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