The Roseate Spoonbill

In the early 1900’s, fashionable women used the plumes of birds to decorate their hats and clothes. Plumes are the showy, colorful feathers of a bird. In some cases, whole birds were used. Many species were in danger of being wiped out for their feathers.

One of the most beautiful birds that faced extinction was the roseate spoonbill – a large, pink and white bird with vivid red shoulders. It gets its name from its large red shoulders and flat, spoon-shaped bill that it uses to eat in the muck of the ponds and shallow lagoons where it lives. It took strict conservation techniques, but the bird has made a remarkable comeback.

A scientist once wanted to study the nesting habits of spoonbills. He marked with blue paint the rims of those nests he was going to observe. That paint would would automatically mark the birds’ breast when they settled on the eggs. This method had worked with other species of birds but it didn’t work so well in this case. When the male parent approached the freshly painted nest, he seemed to study the painted area intently and then dropped down to make sure the eggs were untouched. After this, he set about removing the painted sticks from the nest, picking them up carefully by the unpainted ends. He took out every stick with even the least trace of paint and then settled on the eggs.

Just as that spoonbill wouldn’t spoil its natural beauty with paint, so we maintain our natural appearance and cultivate an inner beauty that makes even the homeliest person beautiful. It’s in the Bible, 1 Peter 3:3-4, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight"