Glossy IbisPlegadis falcinellus

adult, breeding
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
juvenile
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

Description

22-25" (56-64 cm). W. 3'1" (94 cm). A large, all-dark marsh bird with a down-curved bill. Plumage rich chestnut in breeding season; wings glossy greenish; eyes brown. The bare face is outlined by a thin line of white. Breeding White-faced Ibis similar, but has broader band of white feathers around bare face, red eyes, and all-red legs. Outside the breeding season, both species have streaks on the head and neck, and brown eyes; they are then very difficult to distinguish.

Voice

Low grunts and higher-pitched bleats.

Listen

colony sounds

Habitat

Marshes, swamps, flooded fields, coastal bays, and estuaries.

Range

Breeds on or near the coast, chiefly from Maine to Florida and Texas. Resident and in winter along Gulf Coast and on Atlantic Coast south from Carolinas. Also in Old World.

Discussion

The Glossy Ibis probably crossed the Atlantic from Africa to northern South America in the 19th century, dispersing northward into the United States by way of the Caribbean region. In recent years it has expanded its range considerably and is now a common breeder in areas where it was formerly rare or absent. Away from salt water it frequently eats crayfish, but along the coast it feeds mostly on fiddler crabs. It also eats insects and snakes, including the poisonous water moccasin.

Nesting

3 or 4 pale blue-green eggs in a stick nest in a bush or tree, rarely on the ground. Nests in colonies, often along with herons.

Similar Species

adult, breeding

White-faced Ibis

22-25" (56-64 cm). W. 3'1" (94 cm). A large, chestnut-bronze marsh bird with a long, down-curved bill.

Vireo

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