Rare spoonbill spotted in Alabaster

Alabaster Mayor David Frings recently spotted a rare roseate spoonbill bird in the wetlands surrounding the city's Limestone Park. (Contributed/David Frings)

 By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

While Alabaster Mayor David Frings was making his rounds through the city in late June, he spotted something a little out of place.

While visiting wetlands connected to Alabaster’s Limestone Park off U.S. 31 south, Frings said he noticed a rare visitor among a flock of more than 50 egrets feeding in the wetlands.

“I try to make daily rounds to different parts of the city. I noticed a flock of egrets, and I pulled over to take a look,” Frings said. “I spotted a pink bird out there with them, and I had to do a double-take.”

The pink bird was a roseate spoonbill, a bird typically only found in extreme southern Florida and Louisiana. The rosette spoonbill is a wading bird with an elongated duck-like bill usually standing about 30 inches tall, Frings said.

Frings’ discovery marked only the second time a rosette spoonbill has been spotted in Alabaster. The first came following a tropical storm in 2004, Frings said.

“To see it in central Alabama is definitely unusual,” Frings said, noting the birds usually live in coastal estuary-type areas. “Sometimes a big storm will drive them up this way, but this one came up here without anything like that driving it.”

Frings said the wetlands in and around Limestone Park, which is at 2400 U.S. 31, routinely draw a wide range of wildlife, including several types of birds and deer.

“If you go out there late in the evening and watch, it reminds me of the shots I see on National Geographic,” Frings said.

Alabaster officials recently partnered with the Birmingham Audubon Society to construct a raised observation platform in the park to allow visitors to easily view wildlife in the area. Limestone Park has been named a site along the Appalachain Highland Birding Trail, which stretches from Little River Canyon to southern Shelby County.

Frings said the observation platform, which will feature educational signs, shade cover and benches, will open later in the summer.