Living Bird Magazine
Living Bird Magazine
Glossy IbisPlegadis falcinellus
- ORDER: Pelecaniformes
- FAMILY: Threskiornithidae
At distance, Glossy Ibises look uniformly dark, but a close look in good light reveals stunning colors: deep maroon, emerald, bronze, and violet. This long-legged, long-billed bird forages in flocks through wetlands and wet agricultural fields, searching for insects, small fish, and seeds. The birds are somewhat nomadic, dispersing widely after the nesting season—a tendency that has aided the species in the past 100 years as it has expanded its range from the southeastern U.S. to include much of eastern North America.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Glossy Ibises in shallow freshwater wetlands, as well as brackish and saltwater wetlands, mangroves, and rice fields. Over much of its range, Glossy Ibises can be seasonal or very local, so asking local birders can help locate one. Look for a tall bird (or flock of birds) foraging slowly in open wetlands or flying with neck and feet outstretched. A spotting scope (often carried by bird walk leaders) can be very useful in getting better views of this often faraway species.
- Morito Común (Spanish)
- Ibis falcinelle (French)
- Cool Facts
- Flocks of Glossy Ibis forage quite close together, advancing slowly as they probe a muddy area. This activity often attracts Snowy Egrets and other species of waders, which capture minnows and other prey moving away from the feeding ibis flocks.
- Glossy Ibises nest in colonies, often among other species of ibis, heron, egret, or spoonbill. Colonial nesters have the advantage of many extra sets of eyes looking out for predators. Colonies might also be places where highly gregarious species like ibises can share information about the most productive foraging areas.
- Glossy Ibis is a cosmopolitan species, also found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. In recent decades, its population in Spain has been increasing rapidly, probably helped by increased rice cultivation there. Glossy Ibises banded in Spain have turned up as far away as Barbados, having crossed the Atlantic—a remarkable feat but one that several species of heron and egret have managed as well.
- The oldest recorded Glossy Ibis was at least 21 years old and lived in Virginia between 1971 and 1992.