The White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) is a species of bird in the Ibis family, Threskiornithidae. It is found from Virginia via the Gulf Coast of the United States south through most of the coastal New World tropics. This particular ibis is a medium-sized bird with an overall white plumage, bright red-orange down-curved bill, and long legs, and black wing tips that are usually only visible in flight. Males are larger and have longer bills than females. [Wikipedia]
The white plumage and pink facial skin of adult White Ibises are distinctive. Adults have black wingtips that are usually only visible in flight. In non-breeding condition, the long down-curved bill and long legs are bright red-orange. During the first ten days of the breeding season, the skin darkens to a deep pink on the bill and an almost purple-tinted red on the legs. It then fades to a paler pink, and the tip of the bill becomes blackish. It is difficult to determine the sex of an adult White Ibis from its external appearance since the sexes have similar plumage. However, there is sexual dimorphism in size and proportion as males are significantly larger and heavier than females and have longer and stouter bills. [Wikipedia]
White Ibises gather in groups in shallow wetlands and estuaries in the southeastern United States. At each step, their bright red legs move through the water and their curved red bill probes the muddy surface below. As adults, these striking wading birds are all white save for their black wingtips but watch out for young birds that are brown above and white below. White Ibises nest in colonies in trees and shrubs along the water’s edge, changing locations nearly every year. [All About Birds]
White Ibis Facts [All About Birds]
- Male White Ibises are super protective. They guard the nest and their female to prevent other ibises from stealing sticks from the nest and from advances of other males during nest building and egg laying. It’s not until night when the risks are lower that the female is left alone.
- The mascot of the University of Miami in Florida is a White Ibis, affectionately called Sebastian the Ibis. Legend has it that they choose the White Ibis for their heroic ability to withstand hurricanes, which is the name of the university’s football team.
- When baby White Ibises hatch their bills are straight. Their bills don’t start to curve downward until they are 14 days old.
- The oldest recorded White Ibis was at least 16 years, 4 months old when it was found in Florida in 1972. It had been banded in Alabama in 1956.