The ibis animal, a type of bird, is one of the most well-known wading birds in the world, with varieties found on all continents except Antarctica. There are about 30 different species that exist today, each with its own size, colour, and other characteristics. Several species of ibis are now extinct, and others are considered endangered.
Ibis Scientific Classification
Scientific Name: Threskiornithidae
Conservation Status: Least Concern
Main Prey: Fish, Crab, Insects
Distinctive Feature: Rounded body and long neck and beak
Wingspan: 80cm – 120cm (32in – 47in)
Habitat: Marshes, wetlands and swamps
Predators: Falcon, Hawks, Herons
Favorite Food: Fish
Average Clutch Size: 2
Slogan: Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!
Ibis Physical Characteristics
Colour: Brown, Grey, Black, White
Skin Type: Feathers
Lifespan: 8 – 15 years
Weight: 0.3kg – 2kg (0.6lbs – 4lbs)
Height: 50cm – 65cm (19.7in – 25in)
Amazing Ibis Facts!
- The colour of an ibis bird is mostly determined by its feeding habits and location. The scarlet ibis, like the flamingo, receives its vivid pink colour from its shrimp-heavy diet.
- Thanks to sensitive feelers inside its bill, ibis birds can recognise food they discover when probing with their beak without having to see it first.
- The head, face, and chest of most ibis species are completely naked. These regions turn brilliant crimson during breeding season.
- Both male and female ibises take turns incubating eggs and feeding the newborn chicks.
Ibis birds are related to storks and belong to the same order as spoonbills, Ciconiiformes.
Ibis Scientific Name
The ibis bird belongs to the Aves class, the Pelecaniformes order, and the Threskiornithidae family. They are further divided into 12 genera, with 28 extant bird species found in each. In both Latin and Ancient Greek, the term “ibis” was the conventional term for these group of birds. The Egyptian term “hab,” which meaning “holy bird,” is also related to the word “ibis.”
Appearance and Behavior
The look of ibises varies from one species to the next. These wading birds, on the other hand, are typically between 22 and 30 inches long. The enormous ibis, the largest species, is more than three feet long and weighs more than ten pounds. Female ibises are typically smaller than males, weighing around ten ounces less and having smaller bills and wings.
Despite differences in appearance, all ibis creatures have football-shaped bodies, long legs, and toes. Their long, down-curved bills are used to search for food in muck and water. The bills of baby ibises are straight at birth and begin to curve downward roughly 14 days later.
Ibises come in a variety of colours, and their colour is influenced by their eating habits and habitat. The brilliant pink hue of the scarlet ibis, for example, is due to the fact that it eats a lot of shrimp. During breeding season, most ibises have bald heads or faces, and the underlying skin turns bright red.
The beak of these wading birds are uniquely constructed to assist them in probing the ground for food. Their nostrils are towards the base of the bill, rather than at the tip, allowing them to breathe while probing. They also employ sensitive feelers embedded in their bills to detect food they come across, eliminating the need to drop it and examine it first.
The majority of ibis species are usually mute. During breeding season, they may cough, squeak, or breathe noisily to draw attention to themselves. Female ibises may also utilise a unique sound to call their offspring.
Ibises are social birds who usually reside in huge flocks. Ibise flocks are mostly active throughout the day, feeding, resting, and preening. All existing species of the bird can fly, and they travel in flocks from their roosting grounds to feeding grounds and return.
They fly in V-shaped patterns at times and in straight-line formations at other times. Ibises in flight beat their wings in tandem and can switch between flapping and gliding at the same moment, which is incredible. Ibises keep their necks and legs extended while flying, flapping and sailing alternately.
Ibises create compact nests in low places of plants and trees, usually out of sticks. Some animals even construct them on cliff faces. They build their nests in enormous groups of hundreds to thousands of breeding pairs.
Individual flocks of ibises converge to form enormous colonies during the breeding season, which varies by species and habitat. Some ibis species mate with the same partner year after year, whereas others mate with a different spouse each year. The nest for the eggs is prepared by both parents. Females normally lay three to five eggs every season, with a three- to four-week incubation period. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs throughout this time.
The chicks commonly have brown, grey, or black down after hatching. Both parents alternate feeding the chicks by allowing each chick to reach inside the mouth of the other and retrieve regurgitated food. Ibis chicks fledge wherever they are.
Except for the islands of the South Pacific, these birds can be found in all warm (usually tropical to subtropical) regions of the world. They like wetlands, but they can also be found in farmland, open meadows, grasslands, and forested places. Although the majority of ibis habitats are at sea level, some ibis can be found in mountainous areas.
In North America, three species of ibis are common: the glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus, Plegadis chihi, and Eudocimus albus. The hadada ibis, for example, is only found in Africa. Others, such as the Geronticus eremita (hermit ibis), can be found in North Africa and the Middle East.
Threskiornis aethiopica, the sacred ibis, was adored in Ancient Egypt. The species is now primarily found in Southern Arabia and Sub-Saharan Africa, and is no longer present in Egypt.
These birds are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat almost anything as long as it is edible. However, they are mostly carnivorous, eating insect larvae, worms, shrimp, beetles, grasshoppers, small fish, and soft crustaceans. These birds do eat algae and aquatic plants on occasion, but they don’t make up a large part of their diet.
Predators and Threats
In many places of the world, ibis species are common and plentiful. Some, however, are deemed endangered. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, for example, has listed the hermit ibis of Northern Africa and the Middle East as endangered (IUCN). This species was once distributed throughout central and southern Europe, Algeria, and Turkey, but currently only exists in Turkey and Morocco. Nipponia nippon, an endangered species of ibis known as the Japanese or crested ibis, was on the point of extinction near the end of the twentieth century.
There are 28 species of ibis that are extant or currently live in the world. Six species have become extinct, including two flightless birds – the Hawaiian apteribis and the Jamaican xenicibis, which possessed club-like wings.
Depending on their habitat, ibises are preyed upon by a variety of predators. Birds of prey, monkeys, crows, snakes, and iguanas are all common ibis predators. Intense hunting, draining of wetland habitats, pesticide use, and commercial logging of nesting places are all factors that may have a negative impact on population levels. Ibis eggs and chicks frequently fall out of nests as well.
Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan
Ibises live anywhere from 16 to 27 years on average. At least 16 years and four months had passed since the oldest white ibis was discovered in the wild. The bird had been banded in Alabama in 1956 and was discovered in Florida in 1972.
Breeding season varies depending on the species, location, and other variables. Individual ibis flocks get together to form massive breeding colonies when it’s time to reproduce. These generally peaceful birds become a lot noisier during breeding season. To attract the attention of potential mates, they make sounds like wheezes and squeaks. Some ibis species mate with the same partner year after year, while others mate with a new spouse each year.
Using reeds, twigs, and grass, the male and female ibis prepare the nest for the eggs. When the eggs arrive — three to five are deposited every season on average – both parents take turns incubating them. It takes three to four weeks for the incubation phase to begin. Both parents then look after the chicks. The male or female ibis eats and then regurgitates the food back into its mouth. To get the food, the chick reaches its head into the parent’s mouth. Ibis chicks can start fledging anywhere between 28 and 56 days after they are hatched. After that, it usually takes another one to four weeks for the birds to be totally self-sufficient.
The population of most ibis species has remained stable. Some species, however, have become endangered, and habitat loss is the major cause. Commercial logging operations destroy breeding places, resulting in population decline. Wetland habitats are frequently drained for human use, removing secure locations for ibises to thrive. In some regions, the birds are also often hunted, and the extensive use of pesticides may have a harmful influence on their eggs.
For endangered species, efforts have been done to enhance ibis population numbers. The Waldrapp ibis, sometimes known as the bald ibis, was formerly listed as severely endangered by the IUCN. This species is currently categorised as endangered, owing to effective captive breeding initiatives.