African Sacred Ibis - Threskiornis aethiopicus

Length 2.2-2.5 ft (68.6-76.2 cm)
Wingspan 3.7-4.1 ft (111.8-124.5 cm)
Weight 3 lb (1360.8 g)
Clutch Size 2-3
Chicks at birth Semi-altricial
IUCN Conservation Status Least Concern

The African Sacred Ibis, or Sacred Ibis, is a large bird found in Africa and Madagascar. The African Sacred Ibis was an important god symbol in ancient Egypt. Mummified remains have been found.

Their plumage is predominately white with black feathers on the lower back and their wing feathers are edged with black. Their neck and head are bare and the skin is black. Their feet and legs are also black. The bill is long, black and decurved. Their irises are brown and ringed with red during the breeding season. Both sexes are similar. Immature birds are similar to adult but with white feathering on the neck. Chicks are downy white with downy black heads and necks.

They have been introduced to other countries in Europe and the U.S. (Florida). In Europe their growth has been exponential. There is concern that these birds are negatively impacting native species, especially since they are predators of smaller birds.

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Diet: African Sacred Ibises eat a variety of foods including: fish, frogs, small mammals, reptiles, nestling birds, eggs of birds and crocodiles, mollusks, and frogs. They also frequent human dumps.

Courtship: During the breeding season, there may be some physical changes. For example, their lower legs may be tinged with a reddish-copper color. The courtship ritual includes a display where the heads and necks are stretched out by each adult. They bow and intertwine their necks while preening and calling out.

Nesting: African Sacred Ibis will nest in colonies with other Ibis and other species. The nest is a platform of sticks lined with leaves and grass. The male gathers the material while the female builds the nest. The nest is built in trees, bushes are on the ground. Pair bonds are monogamous and last the breeding season. The female will lay 2-3 dull white eggs with some reddish brown spots. The chicks are fed by both parents.

Habitat and Range: African Sacred Ibis are found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Madagascar. They were once found in Egypt but they are now extinct there. Their habitat is varied. They are found in inland waters, cultivated lands, sewage works, playing fields, open grassveld, rubbish dumps, coastal lagoons, tidal flats, and offshore islands They roost nightly in large numbers.

Vocalization: This bird is usually silent, but occasionally makes some croaking noises.

Plumage/Molt Probably molts annually, no alternate or breeding plumage.

Migration: In southern African some African Sacred Ibis are sedentary. Other populations nearer the equator migrate small distances (several hundred kilometers) during the breeding season.

Tongue/feet: No additional information.


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