Sacred Ibis

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Common Name: Sacred Ibis
Scientific Name: Threskiornis aethiopicus

Size: 26 ¾ inches (68 cm)

Habitat: Africa; breeds in sub-Saharan Africa, southeastern Iraq, and formerly in Egypt. It has also been introduced into France, Italy, Spain, and the United States in South Florida. It is found in marshy wetlands and mud flats, both inland and on the coast. It will also visit cultivation and rubbish dumps.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: unknown. This ibis is now extinct in Egypt; habitat destruction, poaching, and insecticide use (such as DDT) led the it’s extinct from that region and have caused the decline of several other ibis species.. The population on Aldabra Island has declined due to hunting and disturbance by temporary workers. The species is also susceptible to avian botulism, so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the disease. On the other hand, the introduced and rapidly growing populations of ibises in southern Europe are seen as a potential problem, since these large predators can devastate breeding colonies of species such as terns. They also compete successfully for nest sites with Cattle and Little Egrets. The adaptable Ibises supplement their diet by feeding at rubbish tips, which helps them to survive the winter in these temperate regions.

The Sacred Ibis is protected by the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)

Diet: Fish, frogs, small mammals, reptiles, smaller birds and insects.

Nesting: Sexes are similar, but juveniles have dirty white plumage, a smaller bill and some feathering on the neck. The bird nests in tree colonies, often with other large wading birds such as herons. It builds a stick nest often in a baobab and lays 2-3 eggs. Both the male and female take turns in guarding the nest site until the chicks are large enough to defend themselves. In addition, both parents help feed the chicks.

Cool Facts: Venerated and often mummified by Ancient Egyptians as a symbol of the god Thoth, the Ibis was according to Herodotus and Pliny the Elder also invoked against incursions of serpents. It was also said that the flies that brought pestilence died immediately upon propitiatory sacrifices of this bird.

This is a gregarious bird, living, traveling, and breeding in flocks. In flight, ibises form diagonal lines or v-formations. This formation decreases wind resistance for trailing birds. When the leader of the pack tires, it falls to the back of the formation and another ibis takes its place at the front.

This bird is usually silent, but occasionally makes some croaking noises.

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume I

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