Threskiornithidae – Ibises & Spoonbills
The Threskiornithidae family includes 35 species of large wading birds. The family has been traditionally classified into two subfamilies, the ibises and the spoonbills; however recent genetic studies are casting doubt on the arrangement, and revealing the spoonbills to be nested within the old world ibises, and the new world ibises as an early offshoot.
Members of the family have long, broad wings with 11 primary feathers and about 20 secondaries. They are strong fliers and, rather surprisingly, given their size and weight, very capable soarers. The body tends to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, decurved in the case of the ibises, straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. They are large birds, but mid-sized by the standards of their order, ranging from the dwarf Olive Ibis Bostrychia bocagei, at 45cm and 450g, to the Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea, at 100cm and 4.2kg.
They are distributed almost worldwide, being found near almost any area of standing or slow-flowing fresh or brackish water. Ibises are also found in drier areas, including landfills. The Llanos are notable in that these wetland plains support seven species of ibis in the one region.
All ibises are diurnal; spending the day feeding on a wide range of invertebrates and small vertebrates: ibises by probing in soft earth or mud, spoonbills by swinging the bill from side to side in shallow water. At night, they roost in trees near water. They are gregarious, feeding, roosting, and flying together, often in formation.
Nesting is colonial in ibises, more often in small groups or singly in spoonbills, nearly always in trees overhanging water, but sometimes on islands or small islands in swamps. Generally, the female builds a large structure out of reeds and sticks brought by the male. Typical clutch size is two to five; hatching is asynchronic. Both sexes incubate in shifts, and after hatching feed the young by partial regurgitation. Two or three weeks after hatching, the young no longer need to be brooded continuously and may leave the nest, often forming creches but returning to be fed by the parents.
According to the IOC there are 35 species of Ibises and Spoonbills in the family Threskiornithidae, which are:
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
Malagasy Sacred Ibis Threskiornis bernieri
Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus
Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis
Red-naped Ibis Pseudibis papillosa
White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni
Giant Ibis Pseudibis gigantea
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus
Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon
Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea
Sao Tome Ibis Bostrychia bocagei
Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara
Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
Wattled Ibis Bostrychia carunculata
Plumbeous Ibis Theristicus caerulescens
Buff-necked Ibis Theristicus caudatus
Black-faced Ibis Theristicus melanopis
Andean Ibis Theristicus branickii
Sharp-tailed Ibis Cercibis oxycerca
Green Ibis Mesembrinibis cayennensis
Bare-faced Ibis Phimosus infuscatus
American White Ibis Eudocimus albus
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi
Puna Ibis Plegadis ridgwayi
Madagascan Ibis Lophotibis cristata
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor
African Spoonbill Platalea alba
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia
Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes
Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicusBirdLife Species Account
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicusHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Tantalus aethiopicus Latham, 1790, “Aethiopia” = ? Egypt. Normally considered conspecific with T. bernieri; differs in dark brown vs whitish or pale blue iris (3); conspicuous black wingtips (2); purplish-slate vs bluish-slate tertials (1); and differently structured ornamental neck-sacs and different display (2). Also closely related to T. melanocephalus and T. moluccus, and in past all were occasionally considered conspecific. Monotypic.
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicusIUCN Species Status
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicusSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicusSpecies AccountThe African sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) is a species of ibis. Its sister species is the Australian white ibis.
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremitaSpecies AccountThe northern bald ibis, hermit ibis, or waldrapp (Geronticus eremita) is a migratory bird found in barren, semi-desert or rocky habitats, often close to running water. This 70–80 cm (28–31 in) glossy black ibis, which, unlike other members of the ibis family, is non-wading, has an unfeathered red face and head, and a long, curved red bill. It breeds colonially on coastal or mountain cliff ledges, where it typically lays two to three eggs in a stick nest, and feeds on lizards, insects, and other small animals.
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremitaInformationFull species account...
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremitaHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Upupa Eremita Linnaeus, 1758, Switzerland. Closely related to G. calvus. Monotypic.
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremitaIUCN Species Status
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremitaSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruberCornell Species AccountThe Scarlet Ibis, as both its common and scientific names imply, is a brilliant scarlet red over its whole body, the only non-scarlet regions restricted to the distal third of the outer four primaries, the eye, and the bill, which are black.
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruberSpecies AccountThe scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber) is a species of ibis in the bird family Threskiornithidae. It inhabits tropical South America and islands of the Caribbean. In form it resembles most of the other twenty-seven extant species of ibis, but its remarkably brilliant scarlet coloration makes it unmistakable. It is 1 of 2 national birds of Trinidad and Tobago.
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruberSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruberIUCN Species Status
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruberHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Scolopax rubra Linnaeus, 1758, America = Bahamas.Closely related to E. albus. Proposal to merge the two into a single species on basis of close morphological and ecological similarities and natural hybridization in zone of overlap in Venezuela (where more than 40 mixed pairs recorded); another view is that they may simply be colour morphs. Here, the case for lumping considered not proven. Monotypic.
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruberBirdLife Species AccountFull species account…
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvusSpecies AccountThe southern bald ibis (Geronticus calvus) is a large bird found in open grassland or semi-desert in the mountains of southern Africa....
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvusBirdLife Species AccountFull species account...
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvusHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Tantalus Calvus Boddaert, 1783, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Closely related to G. eremita. Monotypic.
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvusIUCN Species Status
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvusIUCN Species Status
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollisBirdLife Species Account
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollisSpecies AccountThe Straw-necked Ibis is a large waterbird with a naked black head, long downcurved black bill and yellow throat plumes. It has a glossy blue-black back, with metallic purple, green and bronze sheen, a white nape and sides of neck and white underparts. Its preference for grassland insects such as grasshoppers and locusts have earnt it the name of Farmer's Friend.
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollisHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Ibis spinicollis Jameson, 1835, Murray River, New South Wales, Australia. Often placed in monospecific genus Carphibis. Monotypic.
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollisSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollisSpecies AccountThe straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) is a bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. It can be found throughout Australia, New Guinea, and parts of Indonesia. Adults have distinctive straw-like feathers on their neck.
Number of bird species: 35