We conducted a 3-year study in 1978-80 of thenesting ecology of Roseate Spoonbills (Ajaia ajaja) at Nueces Bay, Texas. Reproductive success, as well as nesting chronology, nest composition and placement, growth and development of young, egg measurements, and pollutant residues in eggs were determined. For 154 marked nests, the average clutch size was 3.0 eggs; 73% of the eggs hatched, and 87% of the nests were successful (fledged at least one young). Nest success (total fledglings: total eggs) averaged 50% during the study, or 1.5 fledglings per nest. Incubation began the day after the first egg was laid, and the incubation period for each egg was 22 days. Eggs hatched in the order that they were laid; the first and second egg hatched on consecutive days, and the second, third, and fourth egg hatched every other day. Nest composition and size were highly consistent, as was distance between nests within clusters, but nest placement varied considerably and was dependent on the vegetative configuration of the dredged-material islands. Growth rate of nestlings conformed to a 'standard' growth curve where body weight equaled that of adults at fledging. There was no difference in weight gain among siblings based on actual age. Nestlings fledged at about siz weeks of age when feather development was complete. At fledging, the bills of juveniles had almost reached adult width, but bill length was only 67% that of adults.
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Nesting ecology of roseate spoonbills at Nueces Bay, Texas