Today’s new bird is an Australian wading species, native to the island nation and now widespread across a variety of habitats. Our second bird in the 2020 Birdorable Bonanza is the Australian Ibis!
This species is also known as the Australian White Ibis. Like other ibis species, this bird has a long, down-curved bill. Its white plumage is highlighted by fluffy black feathers over the tail, which are actually secondary wing feathers.
Australian Ibis feed on aquatic prey, like frogs, fish, and mussels. They also eat worms and, having adapted to living in areas near human habitation, will also feed on carrion and even food scraps found in trash.
Tomorrow we will reveal a new species of parrot found in high elevation scrubland in parts of South America, including around Lake Titicaca. Can you guess the bird?
The fourth bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a North American wader with a curved bill. It's the White-faced Ibis!
The White-faced Ibis is one of three ibis species found regularly in the United States. The White Ibis and Glossy Ibis are both restricted in range to the east and southeast of the U.S., plus northern parts of South America. The White-faced Ibis ranges in the central and western parts of North and Central America, ranging all the way to the Pacific Coast. There is a separate resident population in southeastern South America as well.
White-Faced Ibis - Explore #136 5-06-09 by Linda Tanner (CC BY 2.0)
White-faced Ibises breed and feed around marshy habitats. They forage by probing their curved bills into soft marshy substrate. They eat invertebrates like insects, snails, and worms. White-faced Ibises will also take prey items like frogs, crayfish, and small fish. The White-faced Ibis joins Birdorable today, bringing our total number of bird species to 562. We now have 21 wading birds and a total of six ibises. If you love ibises as much as we do, be sure to check out our cute Birdorable ibis t-shirts & gifts!. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a small bird from Down Under named for its dark bib. Can you guess tomorrow's species?
If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr) of the Scarlet Ibis. Male Scarlet Ibises attract mates by performing a courtship display. They nest in large colonies; each nest will typically contain two to three eggs. Juvenile Scarlet Ibises lack the bright coloring of adult birds. The pigmentation comes from the food they eat: algae and small crustaceans. Through the following pictures, you can see different stages in the plumage as the Scarlet Ibis grows into adulthood.
Scarlet ibis by floridapfe
Baby Scarlet Ibis, before he gets all scarlety by Liesel's Easel
A juvenile Scarlet Ibis by Danette's Photos
Scarlet Ibis Juvenile by Scott Hanko
Juvenile Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) by JJSnickers
We recently added the Northern Bald Ibis to Birdorable. This bird is a non-wading species of Ibis with a feather-free head. Along with the Southern Bald Ibis, these birds prefer arid landscape over wetlands, and will breed on cliffs rather than in trees. These traits, along with their bald heads, separates these two species of ibis from all others. Unfortunately, the Northern Bald Ibis is a critically endangered species. Originally native to the Middle East, north Africa and south Europe, the species is no longer found in Europe and is declining in its remaining range. A group of 500 wild birds in Morocco make up the bulk of the population today. There are approximately 1100 Northern Bald Ibises living in captivity. The guidelines for conservation and reintroduction of the species were established at an International Advisory Group for Northern Bald Ibis (IAGNBI) conference in 2003. The release of captive birds into the wild has not been successful so far, but several different groups are hard at work on discovering a successful method of release to increase the wild population. Interestingly, the Northern Bald Ibis became one of the world's first protected species by decree of the Archbishop Leonhard of Salzburg in 1504. Despite this status the species still died out in Austria, along with the rest of Europe. And its struggles continue today. If you'd like to learn more about the Northern Bald Ibis and the work being done to save this critically endangered species, visit the IAGNBI website.
Today we've added the Sacred Ibis, a bird that lives in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Europe, where it was introduced. The Sacred Ibis is famous for its role in ancient Egyptian mythology, where it was often mummified as a symbol of the god Thoth, God of wisdom. In art, Thoth was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon. Its name means "He who is like the ibis".
The bird may have been sacred in Egypt, but in Europe it is having a negative impact. An increasing population of Sacred Ibises in France and southern Europe are devastating breeding colonies of terns and herons. They also compete successfully for nest sites with Cattle Egrets and Little Egrets. In the late 1970s, just twenty Sacred Ibis were originally imported from Kenya to the Branféré Zoological Gardens in southern Brittany, France. A breeding colony was established and spread to neighboring wetlands. A census in 2005 revealed circa 3,000 of the birds.
In the next 17 days we'll be introducing a new Birdorable bird every day as part of our Birdorable Bonanza. Today's addition is the Scarlet Ibis, a beautiful bird that lives in tropical South America. It is completely scarlet-colored, except for black wing-tips. It is very closely related to the American White Ibis and sometimes hybridizes with them, producing pink offspring. How cute is that? :)