Eudocimus – Ibises

This small genus contains a bird that can serve as a traffic red traffic signal!

These birds are found in a wide range of habitats including wetlands, forests, and plains across the New World, as well as other parts of the globe. Ibises are characterized by their distinctive long, down-curved bills, which they skillfully use to probe into soft mud or sand to locate their prey.

The diet of ibises is quite varied and largely depends on the species and their habitat. The Scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), for example, is known for its strikingly vivid red plumage, which is believed to be derived from carotenoid pigments in the crustaceans they consume. These birds have a preference for insects such as beetles and crabs, but they will also eat shrimp, mollusks, and small fish, depending on the availability.

In terms of distribution, ibises are quite diverse. In Central and South America, the Scarlet Ibis and the White ibis (Eudocimus albus) are common sights, often observed foraging in the shallows of marshes, swamps, and tidal flats. Their curved bills allow them to delve into areas that other birds cannot reach, making them important players in the ecosystem by controlling insect and crustacean populations.

Ibises are indeed social and gregarious birds, frequently found in large flocks, which may include other species of wading birds. Their social structure extends to breeding. They typically breed in colonies, where numerous pairs construct their nests in close proximity to one another, often in trees or bushes near water. These colonies can become quite large and noisy with the constant communication between the birds.

During the breeding season, ibises engage in elaborate courtship displays which include mutual preening, bill rubbing, and a variety of vocalizations. Both the male and female participate in nest building, using twigs and vegetation to construct their platform nests. They also share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and caring for the young.