Many people do not think of birdwatching while visiting Cozumel on vacation. However, considering only 6% of the entire island is developed, Cozumel offers some fantastic grounds for a variety of our feathered friends – especially the mangrove lagoon in Punta Sur and birdwatching is an “after scuba diving” activity that the entire family (divers and non-divers) might really enjoy.
One of the most striking of these birds is the Roseate Spoonbill, which is often mistaken for a pink flamingo (which also make a home in Cozumel but in lesser numbers). Reaching nearly 3-feet tall, with a wingspan of over 4-feet, the colorful adults have a bright pink body and wings with dark red highlights. The neck and breast are very light pink to white, with the smallest touches of orange feathers on their shoulders, face and tail. The Spoonbill has a bald head, and it is usually slightly yellow or green with a long, spoon-shaped bill – hence, it’s name. Their crimson legs are long and thin, which enables them to wade through the shallow mangrove swamps in search of food.
When feeding, the Spoonbill will walk slowly through the shallow water, using its spoon-shaped bill to stir the water back and forth feeling for its next meal. Once it feels its prey, it will immediately snap its bill closed, engulfing the insect, small fish or crustacean.
We see these birds frequently during our surface intervals when scuba diving in the southern most areas of the Cozumel Marine Park or are snorkeling around Cielo but the next time you find yourself in the Punta Sur Eco Park, pay a few extra pesos to take the boat ride into Colombia lagoon… a beautiful little mangrove area that the Spoonbills of Cozumel prefer to call “home.”