Plegadis – Glossy ibises

The most widespread of all ibises

Glossy ibises are the most widespread ibis species, inhabiting wetlands, marshes, and swamps in warm temperate and tropical regions throughout the world. Their glossy, iridescent plumage, which appears dark at a distance but reveals rich, coppery-bronze colors in sunlight, is a defining characteristic.

These birds have long, down-curved bills that are ideally suited for probing into mud and shallow water for food. Their diet is varied and reflects the rich biodiversity of their habitats. They consume a wide range of prey, including insects like aquatic beetles, dragonflies, and grasshoppers, as well as leeches, mollusks, crustaceans, and occasionally small vertebrates such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, and even small birds.

Glossy ibises are highly sociable and exhibit strong flocking behavior. Outside of the breeding season, they can be seen in large groups, sometimes numbering in the hundreds. These flocks migrate together, often over long distances between their breeding and wintering areas.

When it comes to nesting, glossy ibises are colonial. They often build their nests close together in reed beds or dense shrubs, sometimes alongside other water birds like herons and egrets. Nests are typically constructed from reeds and sticks and lined with grass. Both parents take part in nest building, incubation of the eggs, and feeding the chicks. The young ibises are altricial, meaning they are hatched in an undeveloped state and require care and feeding by the parents.

During foraging, glossy ibises often work in groups, walking through shallow waters or fields in a line to flush out prey. Their sharp bills are not only tools for probing but can also be used to pick out food items from the surface.

Glossy ibises face various threats, including habitat loss due to wetland drainage and conversion for agriculture, pollution, and disturbance from human activity.