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White Ibis

Eudocimus albus

Listing Status

  • Federal Status: Not Listed
  • FL Status: No longer listed in Florida as of January 11, 2017, but is part of the Imperiled Species Management Plan.
  • FNAI Ranks: G5/S5 (Demonstrably Secure)
  • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)

Appearance

The white ibis is a midsized member of the Family Threskiornithidae.  This species is approximately 22 inches (56 centimeters) long with a wingspan of approximately 37 inches (96 centimeters) (Frederick 1996).  Adults are mostly white with black tipped wings, a red face, red legs, and a very distinct downcurved, pink bill which is used to probe the ground for food while foraging.

Behavior

white ibis

The diet of the white ibis primarily consists of crabs, crayfish, fish, snakes, frogs, and insects.  

Ibis breed in large colonial groups along the coast and inland between February and October, with the peak in the spring and summer.  Nests are made of sticks, leaves, and roots, and can be found both on the ground and as high as 50 feet (15.2 meters) up in trees.  Females lay between two and four eggs in one nesting and incubation can last up to 22 days with both parents sharing incubation responsibility.  Between the ages of 9 and 16 days, the young become more mobile; however, the young generally remain in the nest until they are 28 to 35 days old.

Habitat

white ibis map

White ibis prefer coastal marshes and wetlands, feeding in fresh, brackish, and saltwater environments.  They range from Baja California and Sinaloa, Mexico, east through south Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, coastal North Carolina, south throughout the Greater Antilles, and South America to Peru, and French Guiana. This species is found throughout most of Florida.

Threats

The main threat to the white ibis is the loss of wetland habitat due to the human development of coastal areas and their freshwater feeding areas.  The alteration of wetlands, pollution, and saltwater influxes are other habitat threats as these practices degrade the quality of wetlands and decrease the availability of prey (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001, Bildstein et al. 1990, Frederick 1987, Adams and Frederick 2009, Herring et al. 2010).

Conservation and Management

The white ibis is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and protected from take by 68A-4.001, F.A.C. Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.

Biological Status Review (BSR)
Supplemental Information for the BSR
Species Action Plan

References

Adams, E. M., and P.C. Frederick. 2009. Sex-related mortality of white ibis (Eudocimus albus) nestlings during a starvation event. Waterbirds 32(1):123 – 127.

Bildstein, K. L., W. Post, J. Johnston, and P. Frederick.  1990.  Freshwater wetlands, rainfall, and the breeding ecology of white ibises in coastal South Carolina.  Wilson Bulletin 102: 84 98.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory.  2001.  Field guide to the rare animals of Florida.http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Eudocimus_albus.PDF.

Frederick, P. C., 1987.  Chronic tidally-induced nest failure in a colony of white ibises.  Condor 89: 413-419.

Frederick P.C., 1996.  White ibis. Pages 466-474 in J.A. Rodgers, Jr., H.W. Kale II, and H.T. Smith (Eds.).  Rare and endangered biota of Florida, Vol. V:  Birds.  University        Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Herring, G., D. E. Gawlik, M. I. Cook, and J. M. Beerens. 2010.  Sensitivity of nesting great egrets (Ardea alba) and white ibises (Eudocimus albus) to reduced prey availability.  Auk 127: 660-670.

Katja Schulz.  Editor. "Eudocimus albus (Linnaeus, 1758)". Encyclopedia of Life, available from "http://www.eol.org/pages/914054". Accessed 22 Mar 2011.