ibis profile

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Ibis were revered as sacred by the ancient Egyptians, but no species of bird currently inhabits modern Egypt.

ibis 1

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The ibis is a bird found on every continent except Antarctica and is one of the most famous wading birds in the world. Nearly 30 different species currently exist, but they vary widely in size, color, and other variables. Some ibis species are now extinct, and others are listed as endangered.

5 Unbelievable Facts!

  • The ibis bird's color is mainly based on its feeding behavior and habitat. Like the flamingo, the scarlet ibis gets its bright pink hue from its shrimp-based diet.
  • Thanks to sensitive antennae in its beak, the ibis bird can identify food it finds while probing with its beak without seeing it first.
  • Most ibis species have exposed areas, including the head, face, and chest. During the breeding season, these areas turn bright red.
  • Male and female ibis take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks.
  • Ibis birds are related to storks, which belong to the same order Ciconiiformes as spoonbills.

scientific name

Adult white ibis (Eudocimus albus) spotted in Florida's Everglades National Park
The adult white ibis (Eudocimus albus) belongs to the subfamily Ibis, but there are many genera and species.

© Jorgeinthewater/Creative Commons

Ibis belongs to the class Aves , Ciconiiformes, family Threskiornithidae and subfamily Threskiornithinae . They are further subdivided into 12 different genera, of which 28 extant species of birds are found. The word "ibis" is the traditional word used in Latin and ancient Greek to refer to this type of bird. The word "ibis" is also related to the Egyptian word "hab", which means "sacred bird".

appearance and behavior

The appearance of ibis varies from one species to another. However, the average body length of these waders is between 22 and 30 inches. The largest species, Giant Ibis, averages over 3 feet in length and weighs an average of 10 pounds. Female ibises tend to be smaller than males, usually about 10 ounces lighter, with smaller bills and shorter wings.

Although the appearance varies between species, all ibis birds have football-shaped bodies and slender legs and toes. Their long, downward-curving beaks are used to probe mud and water for food. Interestingly, the young ibis' beak is straight at birth and begins to curve downward around 14 days after birth.

The crested ibis gets its color from the shrimp it eats.


The color of ibis varies from species to species, and their coloration also depends on their diet and habitat. For example, the bright pink color of the crested ibis is due to the large number of shrimp it eats. Most crested ibis have a bald head or face, and the underlying skin turns bright red during the breeding season.

The beaks of these wading birds are specially designed to help them probe the ground for food. Their nostrils are at the base of the beak rather than the tip, which allows them to hold their breath while probing. They also use their sensitive antennae to identify the food they find in the bill, eliminating the need to put down the food first and then look.

Most ibis species are usually silent. During breeding season, however, they may pant, scream or breathe loudly to signal their presence. Female ibises also sometimes call their young with a distinctive sound.

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Social birds, ibis usually live together in small groups. Groups of crested ibises are mainly active during the day, foraging, resting and grooming during the day. All extant species of this bird are capable of flight, and they fly in flocks from roosting to feeding grounds and back again. They sometimes fly in straight formations and sometimes in V formations. Incredibly, ibises in flight flap their wings simultaneously, and even switch between flapping and gliding at the same time. In flight, ibis keeps its neck and legs extended, alternating between flapping and sailing.

Black-headed ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus) black and white ibis in the swamp
Ibis build nests in large flocks, which can consist of hundreds or thousands of breeding pairs.

Ibis nests low in shrubs and trees, usually out of sticks. Some species even build them on cliffs. They build nests in large groups that can consist of hundreds or thousands of breeding pairs.

During the breeding season, which varies by species and habitat, individual crested ibis flocks come together to form large flocks. Certain species of ibis mate with the same mate every year, while others mate with new mates each year. Both parents prepare the nest for the eggs. Females typically lay three to five eggs per season, with an incubation period averaging three to four weeks. During this time, both parents take turns incubating the eggs.

After hatching, chicks usually have brown, gray or black undercoat. Both parents take turns feeding the chicks, with each chick sticking its head into the parent's mouth and retrieving food it regurgitates. Crested ibis chicks take an average of 28 to 56 days to fling their wings, after which they become fully independent for 1 to 4 weeks. However, some species of ibis will stay with their parents longer to learn details such as migration patterns and feeding strategies.


Ibis Hadada near Thika, Kenya.
This Hadada Ibis was found in tropical Kenya.

© Christiaan Kooyman – Public Domain

These birds are found in all warm (usually tropical to subtropical) regions of the world except the islands of the South Pacific. They are most commonly found in wetlands, but can also be found in croplands, open grasslands, grasslands and forested areas. While most ibis habitats are at sea level, there are also some ibis habitats in the mountains.

Three species of ibis are common in North America: Glossy Ibis, Plegadis falcinellus Plegadis chihi Eudocimus albus . Some, such as Hadada Ibis, are native to Africa. Others, such as Hermit Ibis (Hermit Ibis), Geronticus eremita , are found in North Africa and the Middle East. A species called the grass-necked ibis ( Threskiornis spinicollis) is found only in Australia. The sacred ibis ( Threskiornis aethiopica ) was revered in ancient Egypt. Today, the species is no longer found in Egypt, but is mainly found in southern Arabia and sub-Saharan Africa.


These birds are opportunistic feeders, which means they will eat anything they come across as long as it is edible. For the most part, however, they tend to be more carnivorous, feeding primarily on insect larvae, worms, shrimp, beetles, grasshoppers, small fish, and soft crustaceans. Occasionally, these birds may also eat algae and aquatic plants, but these organisms rarely make up their diet.

Predators and Threats

Australian ibis looking for prey
This Australian ibis landed in a wetland area and could be attacked by birds of prey.

© Plcon555 – Public Domain

Most ibis species are widespread and abundant in many parts of the world. However, some are considered endangered species. For example, the hermit ibis of North Africa and the Middle East is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species was once found in Central and Southern Europe, Algeria and Turkey, and is now only found in Turkey and Morocco. Another endangered species of ibis called the Japanese or crested ibis, Nipponia nippon , was on the brink of extinction in the late 20th century. Some species are also listed as at serious risk, including giant ibis, dwarf olive ibis, Waldrapp or northern bald ibis, and white-shouldered ibis.
There are 28 extant or currently existing ibis species worldwide. Six bird species have become extinct, two of which were flightless birds – the apteribis of the Hawaiian Islands and the xenicibis of Jamaica, which had club-like wings.

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Ibis faces a variety of predators depending on their habitat. Common predators of ibis include birds of prey, monkeys, crows, snakes and iguanas. Factors that may have negatively affected population levels include intense hunting; drainage of wetland habitats; use of pesticides; and commercial logging of nesting sites. Ibis eggs and ibis chicks also often drop out of the nest.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

Ibis of the Prairie (Geronticus eremita)
An ibis like this Geronticus eremita found in the grasslands may live to be 16-27 years old.

© Dezidor / Creative Commons

On average, ibis live 16 to 27 years. The oldest ibis found in the wild was at least 16 years and 4 months old. The bird was found in Florida in 1972 and tied up in Alabama in 1956.

Breeding seasons vary by species, geographic location, and other factors. During the breeding season, individual ibis flocks gather together to form large breeding colonies. During breeding season, these normally silent birds become noisier. They make sounds like wheezing and squeaking to attract the attention of potential mates. Some crested ibises mate with the same partner each year, while others mate with a different partner each year.

Male and female ibis work together to prepare nests for their eggs using reeds, twigs, and grass. When the eggs arrive—usually three to five are laid per season—the parents take turns incubating them. The incubation period lasts three to four weeks. The chicks are then cared for by both parents. Male or female ibis consumes food and then regurgitates it into their mouths. The chick then sticks its head into the parent's mouth to retrieve the food.

Ibis chicks begin to flake (developed enough to fly) between 28 and 56 days after birth. It then usually takes one to four weeks for the birds to become fully independent from their parents. However, some species of ibis will stay with their parents longer.


Populations of most ibis species remained stable. However, some species are already on the brink of extinction, and habitat loss is the main culprit. Commercial logging has eliminated nesting sites, leading to population declines. Wetland habitats are often drained for human habitation, eliminating safe areas for ibis to thrive. These birds are also being hunted aggressively in some areas, and their eggs may also be negatively affected by the widespread use of pesticides.

Efforts have been made to boost ibis populations of threatened species. For example, Waldrapp Ibis, or Bald Ibis, was once listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. Thanks largely to a successful captive breeding program, the species is now listed as endangered.

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ibis FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What kind of animal is an ibis?

The ibis animal is a type of wading bird that can be found in warm climates around the globe. It is in the same family as the spoonbill and is closely related to the stork. All extant species of ibis are capable of flight, although some extinct species of ibis are flightless.

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What do ibis eat – are they carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

The ibis uses its long, downward-curved beak to hunt small fish, molluscs, and other food it finds underground. They primarily find food in water or mud, but they also poke their beaks into cracks and other places in the ground. Crested ibises are not picky eaters and will eat almost any food they find. Generally, however, they are carnivorous and their diet mainly consists of worms, spiders, small fish, crustaceans, beetles, grasshoppers, and insect larvae. They may also consume algae and aquatic plants in small quantities.

Where does ibis live?

These waders live in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Crested ibises are mainly distributed in wetland environments on all continents except Antarctica and the South Pacific islands. Three types are common in North America. Although typically found in wetlands, ibis is also found in open meadows, grasslands, forests, and farmland. Most live at sea level, but some species live in mountains. These birds are almost always located near water.

Can ibis fly?

All extant ibis species fly. However, two extinct genera are flightless. Ibis usually fly together in straight or V formations. In doing so, they flap their wings simultaneously.

Are there ibis in America?

Three of the 28 species of ibis are common in North America. In the United States, the white ibis is the best known and most widespread species, but the bright and white-faced ibis are also found in considerable numbers. They are found mainly in the southern and central states.

What is the symbolism of ibis?

A species of ibis, the sacred ibis, was revered by the ancient Egyptians. This bird is associated with the god Thoth. However, it is no longer found in Egypt.

To which kingdom does ibis belong?

The ibis belongs to the animal kingdom.

What door does the ibis belong to?

Ibis belongs to the phylum Chordate.

What category does ibis belong to?

The ibis belongs to the class of birds.

What category does ibis belong to?

The ibis belongs to the ibis family.

What is ibis?

Ibis belongs to the order Ciconiiformes.

What type of mulch does Ibises have?

Toki is covered with feathers.

What are the distinctive features of ibis?

The ibis has a rounded body and a long neck and beak.

Who are the natural enemies of the ibis?

Predators of ibis include falcons, hawks, and herons.

What is the average clutch size for an Ibis?

Tobis usually lay 2 eggs.

What are some interesting facts about ibis?

Ibis live in swamps, bogs and wetlands!

What is the scientific name of ibis?

The scientific name of ibis is Threskiornithidae.

How long is the lifespan of ibis?

Ibis can live 8 to 15 years.

What is the wingspan of Ibis?

Ibis have a wingspan of 80 cm to 120 cm (32 inches to 47 inches).

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