A year after we bought our condo in Palm Beach Gardens, I was playing golf with my friend Marlene and suddenly looked up, because of an unfamiliar noise, to see a HOT PINK flock of birds flying closely past us. My immediate response was to say, “What the [expletive deleted] was that?” I knew they weren’t flamingos—the color was off—but what were they? Marlene didn’t know, so I went home after the round to see if I could find out. The first iPhone wouldn’t be launched for over a year, but my husband had become completely enamored of the birds of south Florida, so I had a beautifully illustrated book to look through. The roseate spoonbill was shown in all its glory. Not the largest of birds, it’s more the size of a greater egret or a stork than a blue heron or a sand crane. Its beak is remarkable—hence the name spoonbill—and it sweeps it back and forth through the water to gather its food in that spoon. I see the spoonbills all the time on our golf courses here, but always just one alone or perhaps two. I’d love to catch another glimpse of a whole flock again…now that I know what they are!
I’ve had it in mind to paint a roseate spoonbill for months and finally got to it. I’ve found that there’s so much less pressure around painting an animal than there is doing a portrait of a person. I’ve had some fun painting a few animals this year: JJ the Beast, my grand dog, Charley Redux, my friend Herb’s Shichon, and, now, In the Pink—a roseate spoonbill that has just touched down on the tip of a branch, not yet hiding those glorious hot pink wings.