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Sacred Ibis by Cheryl Crowley

Ibis, Sacred

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Description

The sacred ibis is medium-sized bird, 65-90 cm (about 28 inches) tall,  1500 g (about 3 pounds) with a wingspan of 112-124 cm (about 47 inches). Sacred Ibis have the thickest bill of any of the ibis. The feathers on the head are black, the body white, and the wings tipped with black. The beak is very dark grey and has a distinctive decurved shape, perfect for probing in the mud.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Pelecaniformes
Family
Threskiornithidae
Genus
Threskiornis
Species
T. aethiopicus
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
65-90 cm (about 28 inches)
Weight
~1500 g (3 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Threskiornis aethiopicus as a species of Least Concern with a stable population numbering between 200,000 and 450,000 mature individuals. Although the species is currently in no danger of extinction it is worth noting that they are regionally extinct in Egypt, the country and culture from which they derived the common name; sacred ibis.

Social Life
Very gregarious birds, they can be found in colonies of 50-200 pairs, often alongside other Ciconiiformes, such as spoonbills and storks. In the wild they are migratory or nomadic. They frequently move several hundred kilometers to breed during the rains.  Unlike flamingos, sacred ibis are not very vocal unless the flock is alarmed.

Habitat and Range
Generally near water. Can be found in the margins of wetlands, grasslands, lagoons, as well as human environments such as farmyards and town dumps. In recently burnt areas they can be found farther from water. They are found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa and as well as on the western side of the island of Madagascar.

Diet
Mainly carnivores, they eat insects, arthropods, worms, mollusks, frogs, toads, lizards, small mammals, and the eggs of other birds and crocodiles. They feed during the day in flocks of 2-20 birds, walking slowly and taking live prey by probing in dirt or soft mud. They supplement the probing by using visual cues to find prey.

Lifespan
About 20 years.

Predators
Carnivorous mammals, crocodiles, and large snakes.

Reproduction
Sacred ibis are seasonally monogamous; maintaining a pair bond during breeding season only. Both parents build the nest, with the male bringing sticks for the female to position. Both parents care for the young, until they become independent about 1 to 4 weeks after fledging.
Sexual Maturity: About 2-4 years of age.
Mating Season: Starts during or shortly after the rains.
Incubation: 28-29 days.
No. of Young: The female usually lays 2-3 eggs in a large platform of sticks, in a tree or bush. The chicks have black down with white spots on their head and neck. They fledge at 35-40 days.

Information

Description

The sacred ibis is medium-sized bird, 65-90 cm (about 28 inches) tall,  1500 g (about 3 pounds) with a wingspan of 112-124 cm (about 47 inches). Sacred Ibis have the thickest bill of any of the ibis. The feathers on the head are black, the body white, and the wings tipped with black. The beak is very dark grey and has a distinctive decurved shape, perfect for probing in the mud.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Pelecaniformes
Family
Threskiornithidae
Genus
Threskiornis
Species
T. aethiopicus
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
65-90 cm (about 28 inches)
Weight
~1500 g (3 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Threskiornis aethiopicus as a species of Least Concern with a stable population numbering between 200,000 and 450,000 mature individuals. Although the species is currently in no danger of extinction it is worth noting that they are regionally extinct in Egypt, the country and culture from which they derived the common name; sacred ibis.

Social Life
Very gregarious birds, they can be found in colonies of 50-200 pairs, often alongside other Ciconiiformes, such as spoonbills and storks. In the wild they are migratory or nomadic. They frequently move several hundred kilometers to breed during the rains.  Unlike flamingos, sacred ibis are not very vocal unless the flock is alarmed.

Habitat and Range
Generally near water. Can be found in the margins of wetlands, grasslands, lagoons, as well as human environments such as farmyards and town dumps. In recently burnt areas they can be found farther from water. They are found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa and as well as on the western side of the island of Madagascar.

Diet
Mainly carnivores, they eat insects, arthropods, worms, mollusks, frogs, toads, lizards, small mammals, and the eggs of other birds and crocodiles. They feed during the day in flocks of 2-20 birds, walking slowly and taking live prey by probing in dirt or soft mud. They supplement the probing by using visual cues to find prey.

Lifespan
About 20 years.

Predators
Carnivorous mammals, crocodiles, and large snakes.

Reproduction
Sacred ibis are seasonally monogamous; maintaining a pair bond during breeding season only. Both parents build the nest, with the male bringing sticks for the female to position. Both parents care for the young, until they become independent about 1 to 4 weeks after fledging.
Sexual Maturity: About 2-4 years of age.
Mating Season: Starts during or shortly after the rains.
Incubation: 28-29 days.
No. of Young: The female usually lays 2-3 eggs in a large platform of sticks, in a tree or bush. The chicks have black down with white spots on their head and neck. They fledge at 35-40 days.