Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. As I was watching birds coming to roost at Sanibel Island's Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, I overheard a person nearby exclaim how beautiful the flamingos were. She was watching a flock of roseate spoonbills. Spoonbills are wading birds that are related to ibises and they're among South Florida's truly special birds, but they are not close relatives of flamingos. The connection between these birds that results in such occasional misidentifications is that both birds are pink. A roseate spoonbill is a little over two-and-a-half feet tall while a flamingo is nearly four feet tall. The spoonbill has a long, straight bill that ends with a rounded spatula tip that it uses for quickly grabbing the small animals it eats. Flamingos have a Roman-nosed heavy bill that is lined with thin plate-like structures that are used by the flamingos to strain very tiny plants and animals from the water. While both birds are long-necked, long-legged, and social, the often graceful curves of a flamingo's neck are unmistakable.'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.