White ibis

Very good at detecting storms, often the last to leave and first to arrive before and after a hurricane

Terry Foote

An emblematic waterbird of the Americas, particularly renowned for its striking white feathers and pronounced, decurved bill, which is an essential tool for foraging in its preferred wetland habitats. These habitats include a range of watery environments, from swamps and wetlands to mangroves and salt marshes, spanning the southern United States to northern South America.

This bird’s plumage is almost entirely white, except for black tips on its wings that are usually only visible in flight. The adult White Ibis’s bare skin on the face and its bill and legs are generally a dull pink but transform to a vivid scarlet during the breeding season, signaling readiness to mate. This color change is one of the most dazzling displays among the wading birds and is thought to attract mates.

Gregarious by nature, the White Ibis is commonly found in large flocks, which can number in the hundreds during migration and foraging expeditions. These flocks are common in their habitats, moving through wetlands coordinatedly, probing the soft mud with their curved bills for prey. Their diet is varied, mainly consisting of crustaceans, small fish, insects, frogs, and other small aquatic organisms. The White Ibis plays a critical role in the ecosystem, helping control insect populations and contributing to the energy flow within the food web.

White Ibises exhibit monogamous behavior, typically forming pair bonds for the duration of the breeding season. However, some males may engage in extra-pair mating. They are colonial nesters, often sharing nesting sites with other species of ibises and herons, which helps provide collective vigilance against predators. The nests are constructed of sticks and are typically located in trees or bushes above water.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Bahamas
2021
Non-Breeding
Belize
2021
Cayman Islands
2021
Non-Breeding
Colombia
2021
Costa Rica
2021
Cuba
2021
Dominican Republic
2021
Ecuador
2021
El Salvador
2021
Non-Breeding
Guatemala
2021
Non-Breeding
Haiti
2021
Honduras
2021
Jamaica
2021
Mexico
2021
Nicaragua
2021
Panama
2021
Peru
2021
Puerto Rico
2021
Seasonality Uncertain
Trinidad & Tobago
2021
Seasonality Uncertain
Turks & Caicos
2021
Non-Breeding
United States
2021
Venezuela
2021

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No