Roseate spoonbills can be identified by their pink coloring, their long, flat, spoon-shaped bills, their bald heads, and their reddish legs. They are heron-like birds and have a distinctive call that can be identified and used to track them. Their overall coloration varies, but adults typically have a greenish head, a white neck, a gray bill, and deep pink feathers.

Roseate spoonbills can sometimes be mistaken for flamingos due to their long legs and bright pink coloring. Younger spoonbills are very similar in appearance to adults, but their pink coloration is paler and they have white feathers on their heads. In mating season, roseate spoonbills each have a tuft of pink feathers at the center of the breast. Spoonbills can also be identified when they are flying. Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched and walk through the water looking for food in groups.

Roseate spoonbills are native to the Caribbean, Central America, and the Gulf Coast of the United States. They can also be found year-round in large parts of South America, including southern Brazil and northern Argentina. They live in marshes, shallow freshwater, or in shallow coastal waters where they can sift through mud for food. A popular place to observe roseate spoonbills is "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, but they can be found in the coastal waters along the Gulf of Mexico during the winter season and elsewhere year round.