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Scarlet ibis

Scientific Name: Eudocimus ruber

The scarlet ibis, as its name suggests has a scarlet plumage. They have glossy black wing tips and a black beak. Non-breeding adults have a pink or reddish beak and young birds mottled white and brown. All ibis have slightly webbed feet and a curved beak.

These birds move between coastal regions and wetlands. They are a very social species and fly, feed and nest in groups. Scarlet ibis use honking calls to communicate danger and during courtship. Touch is also very important during courtship, with the male and female performing a greeting display by wrapping necks together.

They are a polygynous species, meaning a male may mate with several females. Nests are built close together, with several in one tree. The will female lay three to five eggs, which both parents will incubate. The chicks fledge after 35 days and are independent after 75 days.

These ibis use their long beaks to probe soft soil and mud, searching for prey such as insects and aquatic invertebrates. They may also eat fish, amphibians, molluscs and small snakes.

They are classed as Least Concern although their threats are not well known. Historically they have been hunted for food and for their feathers and this is still happening in some regions. Currently, the loss of suitable breeding and feeding sites is reducing their numbers. Pesticides can build up in the food chain to toxic levels having a negative affect on many aquatic birds, including scarlet ibis.

Key Facts:

  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Distribution: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, Venezuela
  • Habitat: Freshwater, Swamp Forest, Wetlands
  • Diet: Fish, Insects, Small Amphibians, Small Mammals
  • Height: 55 – 76cm
  • Weight: 772 – 935g
  • No. of young: 3 – 5
  • Life Span: 31 years