American White Ibis

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Common Name: American White Ibis
Scientific Name: Eudocimus albus

Size: 23-27 inches (58-69 cm)

Habitat: North & South America; mid-Atlantic coast of the United States south through most of the American tropics into Northern South America. They have generally found in marshy wetlands and pools near the coast but can also be found in urban settings such as residential lawns, and has become common in some city parks, where it can be found feeding alone or with other Ibis.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 150,000. The main conservation concerns for white ibis are hunting and habitat loss. Birds and eggs are hunted for food. When the colony is disturbed by hunting, adults will leave their nests and the young may die. If the disturbance is great enough, the birds will leave the colony altogether. Protection of the wetland habitats where ibis feed and breed is critical to the future of these birds.

Diet: Fish, frogs and other water creatures, as well as insects and small reptiles.

Nesting: Chicks and nestlings are gray. They are brown with white bellies for the first 2 years of life. As they mature, they molt (shed) their brown plumage and grow white feathers. Males and females are virtually indistinguishable, although males tend to be slightly larger in size. They nest in huge colonies in fresh water marshes or along the ocean coast. Researchers have counted 60,000-80,000 individuals in one colony in the Everglades National Park, Florida. Males arrive at the breeding grounds first. The male preens and points its bill towards the sky to attract a mate. Both the male and female build the nest. The male brings sticks, reeds, leaves and other plant materials to the female who then constructs a platform nest in the crotch of a tree, in a shrub or sometimes on the ground. The female lays 2-5 eggs and both the male and the female incubate them. The eggs hatch in about 21 days. Both parents feed the chicks regurgitated food. The chicks fledge when they are about six weeks old.

Cool Facts: The song of the male is an advertising hunk-hunk-hunk-hunk. The female squeals. When feeding, the birds often give a soft, grunting croo, croo, croo as they forage.

The white ibis wades in the water sweepings its heads form side-to-side in search of food. It uses its long, curved bill to probe in the mud for crabs and crayfish. It swallows its prey whole. It also forages for food on land and it may also eat insects, frogs, snails, marine worms, snakes and small fish. Flocks of white ibis will move to different locations in search of food. Other wading birds often follow behind the white ibis and catch prey that has been disturbed by the probing ibis.

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