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White Ibis

Eudocimus albus ORDER: PELECANIFORMES FAMILY: THRESKIORNITHIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

White Ibises gather in groups in shallow wetlands and estuaries in the southeastern United States. At each step, their bright red legs move through the water and their curved red bill probes the muddy surface below. As adults, these striking wading birds are all white save for their black wingtips, but watch out for young birds that are brown above and white below. White Ibises nest in colonies in trees and shrubs along the water's edge, changing locations nearly every year.

Keys to identification Help

Heronlike
Heronlike
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    White Ibises are large wading birds with football-shaped bodies. They have long legs and a long neck that they hold out straight in flight. Their bill is long and curved.

  • Color Pattern

    This ibis is almost entirely white, save for the black-tipped wings and brilliant reddish pink legs and bill. The bare skin around their blue eyes is also reddish pink. Juveniles (fall through winter) are brown above and white below with a streaky brown neck. The legs and bill of juveniles are orange-pink. Immatures (first summer birds) are splotchy brown and white above as they molt into adult plumage.

  • Behavior

    These long-legged waders forage in groups in shallow wetlands and other areas with standing water. They walk slowly with their heads down probing the muddy surface for insects and crustaceans. In flight their long necks are stretched out and their feet trail behind.

  • Habitat

    White Ibises are wetland birds. They use freshwater marshes, coastal estuaries, mangroves, flooded pastures, mudflats, and swamps. They usually forage in shallow areas with less than 8 inches of water, but they also use lawns and parks especially in southern Florida.

Range Map Help

White Ibis Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

Similar Species

Juvenile White-faced and Glossy Ibises have dark underparts and paler bills, unlike the juvenile White Ibis’s white underparts and orange-red bill. Wood Storks are much larger than White Ibises. They have a dark, bare face, a less curved bill, and extensive black along the trailing edge of the wings.

Find This Bird

A visit to a coastal wetland in the Southeast any time of the year will likely be dotted with large white and dark wading birds. White Ibises stand out in the crowd with their reddish pink legs and bills. White Ibises tend to move around in large groups depending on water depth, so look for shallow wetlands or flooded fields to find foraging birds. Unlike larger herons who stalk their prey, White Ibises spend more time walking through wetlands. In some areas they now forage in urban parks and lawns, so don't be surprised if you find one outside of a wetland, especially in southern Florida.

You Might Also Like

Louisiana Report: A Rookery In The Iron Banks (Slideshow), All About Birds, June 22, 2010.

How To Identify White Herons—Excerpt From "Better Birding" Book, All About Birds, December 9, 2015.

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