Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. One of the birds most sought at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island in southwest Florida is the roseate spoonbill. This pink relative of ibises and storks nest to the south in the Everglades and Florida Keys. But it's a regular visitor to Ding Darling and sometimes nests along Florida's west coast. The beauty of the spoonbill's plumage is matched by the bizarreness of its bill; six inches long and an inch wide at the base, it expands to nearly two inches forming the characteristic spoon tip. But this spoon isn't for dipping, nor is it for straining. Think of it as a pair of broad-tipped tongs. Broad tips are efficient for grabbing tiny crabs, two to three inch long fishes and other creatures of tidal shallows. Lacking the probing bill of an ibis or spearing bill of a heron, the roseate spoonbill requires habitats with extensive shallows and high populations of fishes and shellfishes. There it's a grabber, swinging its head from side to side in search of a meal.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.