Pink Flora, Pink Fauna

Ten-petal Anemone ~ Anemone berlandieri 

One of my surest signs of spring is the annual report from a friend in Wharton that ten-petal anemones are blooming in her yard. When she mentions them, I know it’s time to visit my own little patch at the Brazoria refuge: a generally dependable site for seeing the flower in large numbers. 

This year, my timing was right, but when I arrived on the afternoon of February 20, I was greeted by a surprise. I expected the anemones would be white, the color I usually see, but at least half of the flowers were noticeably pink. I’ve seen occasional lavender or pink anemones in the past, but never so many at one time.

Having enjoyed the flowers, I spent some time visiting the refuge’s ponds and sloughs, where I found another form of pink preening at the water’s edge.

Too far away for sharply detailed photos, the pair of Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) nonetheless were in the open, and great fun to watch as they used their long, flattened bills to sweep through the water, straining out whatever bits of food they found there.

Since the adults of this species lose the feathers on their heads and become a brighter pink, my guess is that these are older juveniles. Whatever their age, seeing them was a delight.


Comments always are welcome.

72 thoughts on “Pink Flora, Pink Fauna

    1. I can remember seeing perhaps half-dozen lavender anemones, and none that I’d call ‘richly purple.’ I found a lavender one outside Palacios, and a couple on the Willow City loop. Otherwise, it’s been all white flowers for me, although some have had an occasional tinge of pink.

        1. I’ve never even imagined that color for an anemone, let alone seen it — although I’ve come across it in photos of garden anemones, which are a different species. It’s beautiful.

            1. If gas keeps going up, I’m going to be more limited in my travels than I am now, and the cost of lodging plus gas could become prohibitive. I’m hoping that the height of wildflower season gets here before $4/gallon. I bought gas at $3.02 day before yesterday; now, the same station’s charging $3.55.

            2. Yikes! I don’t remember that large of a two-day increase in my whole life. I haven’t been out to check prices here since the invasion of Ukraine. As for lodging in central Texas, you can always stay at the Steve & Eve Motel, which I’m told has rock-bottom prices.

            3. I’ll keep that offer in mind, especially since one of my goals for this year is to finally visit the Wildflower Center. As for the gas, some of the prices might roll back a bit as the stations that decided to take advantage of geopolitics are undercut by others. It’s going to be interesting. Wheat prices may spike, too, given Ukraine’s role as a primary producer.

    1. I’m so used to seeing white anemones that these were a surprise. As for the spoonbills, their physical appearance didn’t surprise me, but the fact that they were willing to appear in full sight and almost close enough for photos was wonderful.

    1. Whatever the influence, it occurs to me that both flowers and birds clearly were ‘in the pink.’ That’s a phrase I often heard in the past, but rarely come across now. Here’s a nice explanation of it, including its possible relationship to the flowers known as pinks.

    1. I just looked at iNaturalist, and their distribution in our area’s interesting. There are almost no sightings inside the Loop, but there’s quite a ring of sightings outside 610, all the way around. The Woodlands, Conroe, and Spring certainly are included. It finally occurred to me: many of the suburbs include ponds and natural areas that would make good nesting and foraging grounds for the birds, especially since they enjoy crawfish! I had three white ibis show up in my front yard this week, digging around in the relatively fresh mulch and the lawn.

    1. Grosse Savanne’s not so far over the TX/LA border, in an area I’ve explored a bit, and yet I’ve never heard of it. I’m glad your parents had the chance to experience that part of our life. Between the Cameron Prairie and the Lacassine Wildlife Refuge, there’s enough to keep a person busy for weeks, let alone days! You’re just going to have to come south, so you can see these treasures, too.

    1. I don’t usually wear pink, and I’d never decorate with pink, but when springtime pink shows up in any form, I’m right there to appreciate it. You’re right about those apparent smiles! The other detail that I really like is the view of the bird’s bill from behind in the second photo. It really shows off just how broad they are at the tip: the better to scoop up all those tiny shrimp and such.

        1. Well, then — you should indulge your inner spoonbill, and have some. Given this from a Texas Parks & Wildlife site, maybe you could turn your nose pink rather than red:

          “Spoonbills eat shrimp, shrimp eat algae, and the algae make their own red and yellow pigments, called carotenoids. Some scientists believe that the pink coloration that roseate spoonbills acquire as they mature is due to their diet of carotenoid-rich organisms like shrimp. The more they eat, the pinker they get.”

    1. If I wasn’t in the pink, I certainly was among the pinkish! It was such pleasure to find similarly colored flora and fauna, especially since real color in the landscape is spotty just now.

    1. They’re gorgeous, but they seem less willing than the egrets and herons to hang around people; that may help to explain why you’ve not seen one. If they are in the neighborhood, they’re hard to miss, given their color. The young aren’t quite so pink, but if you’re close enough to spot that spatula-shaped bill, there’s no questioning their identity.

  1. Such a pretty pink bird! Almost looks like they’re wearing tutus for a ballet!! Keep photographing these signs of Spring, Linda — those of us with snow still on the ground are eating them up!

    1. I’m enjoying the photos myself. We’ve suddenly turned cold and gloomy again, so you have my sympathy. Spring is like Christmas; when it’s so close, it’s hard to wait. I suppose it’s even harder with spring, since there’s no certain date for it to show up. I know this — the birds and squirrels hanging around my place are eager for some sunshine and warmth, too!

    1. They sure are. Even though pink’s not my favorite color, I always stop for a look when I spot a roseate spoonbill. They seem so improbable. I don’t know why, since we have cardinals and bluebirds that are even more brightly colored, but there’s something about that pink that commands attention.

    1. Even though the anemone seedheads that already had formed were as much as twelve inches tall, these sweet little flowers had popped up post-mowing, and were all of two or three inches tall. I’ll claim my extra credit for getting down to their level for the photos! Sometimes they’re called ‘thimbleflowers.’ If you look at that central cone, you can see why.

  2. Those Spoonbills are gorgeous. I never knew there were pink Spoonbills as I am familiar with only the white species.

    Still a bit early to say, but we’ve had a relatively mild summer here in Melbourne.

    1. Our knowledge of spoonbills was just opposite. You didn’t know about the roseate, and I didn’t know for the longest time there were white ones. David, who comments here, recently posted about the variety of species he’s seen and photographed around the world; yours are included.

      Despite our current grumbling about cold and continued gloom, our winter’s been relatively mild, too. We’ve had some freezes, but not severe enough to cause real disruptions, and the cold-loving plants are happy as can be.

  3. One of my pet peeves is people who mispronounce “anemone” as “Ah-neh-noh-me” and this includes a couple of PhD’s in marine biology who should know better! The plant version is another member of the Ranunculaceae. There is a sweater pattern making the rounds lately called “Ranunculus” that everybody (except me) seems to be knitting. The Ranunculaceae are inescapable, seemingly.

    1. I’ve not heard that mispronunciation, but it fits right in with all the creative ways of saying ‘nuclear,’ ‘ask,’ and ‘New Braunfels.’ In some cases it may simply be an error, but in others it might be verbal dyslexia.

      The relationship between this flower and the buttercups isn’t always obvious, but that center cone is a clue. One of the common names has been ‘thimbleflower,’ and it certainly makes sense; it does look just like the thimbles I grew up using.

  4. And of course there are the anemones of the sea as well, just as beautiful and often pink too.
    They are very sensitive to change of temperature and water quality. I suppose so are the anemone flowers.

    1. The ten-petal anemone actually is pretty tough. It’s one of our earliest spring wildflowers, does well in cooler temperatures, and yet can bloom well into the warmer months. On the other hand, it does seem to be light sensitive. It opens later in the morning, and begins to close relatively early. Our native ‘dandelions’ do the same. I used the think whole fields of them had been mowed down, but it was only that they close up around noon.

  5. Those spoonbills. Sigh. I’ve never seen one. And that sweet anemone. I love seeing pink in spring. I never think of it as “my color” (well, OK — hot pink, yes!) but when I see it in the spring I feel all happy inside!

    1. I’ve always thought the spoonbills rival flamingos for beauty. Granted, the flamingos tend to be brighter and more evenly colored, but I like the pink and white combo on the spoonbills. They do begin to look a bit odd when they’re mature, since they lose their head feathers and go bald, but we can’t have everything!

      I’m beginning to long for real spring myself. I’m tired of being cold!

  6. A good combination of pink for spring. Haven’t seen any Roseate Spoonbills lately as I cross the causeway. At a distance one could almost mistake them for flamingos. The anemones are so delicate – hope spring is here soon. In the 40s here today.

    1. I’m ready for spring, too. We’re sharing your weather today: mid-40s, cloudy, breezy, and way too cold for me. We’ve been getting fronts about every two days, and it’s wearisome! At least I could share these photos that suggest spring; the delicate pinks are so pretty. And, it was twenty degrees warmer when I took them!

    1. Flamingos get all the publicity, don’t they? I’ve never seen a plastic spoonbill as a yard decoration!
      They are pretty, and it makes sense that lots of people confuse them with flamingos. Pink isn’t exactly a usual color for a bird, and when both pink birds are big, with funny beaks — well, the confusion makes sense.

  7. I’m very taken with your anemones! The shading of the pink on the petals is so delicate and pretty. I think I’d heard of roseate spoonbills, but didn’t know what they looked like and if I’d just glanced at these would probably have assumed they were flamingos. They are, as you say, improbable looking birds.

    1. In French, the spoonbills are known as Spatule rosée , and looking at that name, the relationship to our kitchen spatulas is obvious. I love the color, but I laugh at those bills.

      Nearly all my photos of the anemones show a pure, white flower. I’ve seen pink or lavender tinged flowers, but very few: certainly less than a dozen over the years. Why these decided to appear with such a decidedly pink color is a mystery, although farther north others regularly find deep pink or even purple. Mysteries, indeed!

      1. The bills certainly do look comical – and rather cute!

        The colour change or variability in the anemones is intriguing. I wonder why? Are some evolving to attract different pollinators, perhaps? or could the colouring be a response to different soil elements? Fascinating! The effect is lovely.

        1. My first guess (and it’s only that) would be temperature variations. It may be that the flowers that emerged earliest were affected by cold. This time of year, cold fronts and warm fronts battle it out, so two or three days can make quite a difference in conditions. Of course, it could be genetic, too, but as the season goes on, if the new flowers all are white, that will be a clue that environmental factors played a role.

  8. What a wonderful surprise, both finding the pink flowers and the spoonbills. We’re beginning to see sings of spring here. No flowers yet, but that nice green of new growth and the stalks of bulbs pushing up from the ground. It’s coming.

    1. After days and days of gloom, we have a week of sunshine and warmth ahead of us, so I’m expecting a flush of new growth. I noticed today that our clover is beginning to appear; some call it a weed, but I call it a sign of hope! I remember how exciting it was to watch for tulips to emerge when I lived in snow country; I hope your bulbs begin making blooms sooner rather than later!

  9. Pretty petals, pleasing plumage, pink pictures perfectly portrayed.

    We don’t have the beautiful anemones in our area but we make up for it with resident Roseate Spoonbills.

    More spring colors in the air!

    1. Years and years ago, when I still was blogging at Weather Underground, we occasionally would have what we called an “alliter-off.” Your first sentence suggests you would have competed well, and might have won every contest.

      I just found out today that there’s a Spoonbill nesting site not so very far from me. I don’t know if I can get any photos there, since the woman who’s been posting generally uses 500mm and 600mm lenses, but it’s still worth a visit. Maybe I can bribe some of the birds to come nearer with a promise to show them off here!

    1. Aren’t they something? Until I saw my first Spoonbills, I’d only known about flamingos, and in real life had only had seen those kitschy pink yard flamingos!

  10. You lucky thing, you! I’ve never seen a roseate spoonbill. There’s hope, though. A quick online search found a site in Hilton Head that says they’re becoming more common in the SC coastal areas.

    1. They do seem to be spreading north a bit. It’s interesting to see the iNaturalist reports of them around Houston. There are very few inside the Loop — the most densely urban area here — but outside that same loop, and the loop beyond that, there’s a veritable ring of sightings. I finally decided it’s because of the planned communities. Many of them have incorporated natural areas with ponds, woods, and such as part of the development, and there are plenty of places for birds to nest and forage.

    1. There are so many wonderful places within a couple of hours’ drive, but Brazoria is a favorite. Now that it’s warming up, and the days are getting longer, I’ll be wandering slightly farther afield. Especially with gas prices going up as they are, I want to have a good long day to wander if I’m going to spend that much money.

  11. What a delightful flower to have as an early adopter of spring. Mary Beth always has a tough terrible with their name and oftens calls their garden relatives anenomes.

    1. Another reader mentioned that pronunciation, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t wrap my tongue around it. We have a town that’s often mispronounced in the same way. The town’s New Braunfels, but it gets said as New Braunsfel. These anemones are interesting. I went back into my archives and found dozens of photos of white flowers, with only a couple of lavender and a very few with hints of pink. Around Austin, Steve finds wonderfully purple ones on a regular basis. I wouldn’t even guess what makes the difference, but they’re all pretty.

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