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Glossy ibis

Scientific Name: Plegadis falcinellus

The glossy ibis has a black plumage with a distinctive glossy metallic sheen. Non breeding adults are darker brown, duller in colour and have throats streaked with white. Young birds are also duller than adults but do have a greenish metallic hue and a brown neck and head.

These birds are mostly migratory. Breeding in eastern North America and southern Europe then moving in winter to southern North America, central and eastern Africa, southern Asia, Indonesia and Australia. However, populations in southern Northern America, eastern Africa, Madagascar and parts of southern Asia and Australia do not migrate. They remain in the same area but disperse into smaller groups after breeding.

These birds are very social, forming colonies of several thousand individuals during the breeding season. They build their nest of twigs and reeds over water, laying three to four eggs. When hatched the chicks are covered in black coloured down.

These birds mainly eat insects and aquatic invertebrates, but will also hunt for small fish, amphibians and reptiles. Glossy ibis use their sensitive long beaks to probe the water and soft mud for prey.

This ibis is classed as Least Concern, but still faces several threats. For example habitat loss has reduced the suitable area for the glossy ibis, human disturbance causes problems for nesting birds and pollution can kill these birds.

Key Facts:

  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Distribution: Australia, Caribbean, Central Africa, Indonesia, Northern South America, Southern Asia, Southern Europe, Southern North America
  • Habitat: Coast, Freshwater, Swamp Forest, Wetlands
  • Diet: Fish, Insects, Small Mammals
  • Weight: 485 – 580g
  • No. of young: 3 – 4
  • Life Span: 26 years