Courtesy Kenn Kaufman
In North America, the White Ibis breeds coastally from Louisiana east along the Gulf Coast. They occur inland across Florida, and along the Atlantic coast as far north as the Carolinas. The non-breeding range extends further inland, north to Virginia, and west to eastern Texas. The White Ibis is known to wander, and has been recorded, albeit rarely, in states far out of range, sometimes in small flocks. The species is most common in Florida, where over 30,000 have been counted in a single breeding colony. The species also occurs throughout the Caribbean, on both coasts of Mexico and Central America, and as far south as Columbia and Venezuela.
A legend for the range map to the right can be found here
Shallow coastal marshes, wetlands, and mangrove swamps are the White Ibis's preferred habitat. Populations away from the coast make use of marshes, ponds, flooded fields and a variety of other wet habitats, particularly in southern Florida. The White Ibis feeds in fresh, brackish, or salty water.
A highly social species, the White Ibis often feeds in large flocks. The birds wade slowly through shallow water, heads down, probing the bottom by sweeping their long bills back and forth across the bottom. They often capture food by sense of touch alone. The species also forages on land. Crabs, crayfish, and other crustaceans are the preferred prey, but the diet is diverse. The White Ibis also eats insects, fish, frogs and a wide variety of aquatic animals.
The White Ibis breeds in colonies, where nests can number in the tens of thousands. Pairs form in spring, and nesting begins as soon as suitable foraging habitat is available. The female chooses the site and builds the nest, usually in the branches of a tree or shrub. The male assists by bringing her nesting material, occasionally stolen from a neighbor. During incubation, the male aggressively defends his nest and mate from both predators and other ibises. Eggs hatch after about three weeks, and the chicks are weak and helpless for the first several days. The young are attended constantly for the first two weeks, then left on their own for short periods. Young White Ibis are susceptible to salt stress, so the availability of a freshwater food source is essential for young to develop normally. Upon leaving the nest, juvenile birds form flocks with other juveniles.
Short seasonal migrations occur in certain parts of the species' range. In general, there is a push toward coastal areas in winter. The species is nomadic, so large flocks may wander outside the breeding season, often in search of new food sources.