nipon (aka Japanese Crested Ibis, Asian
This species is distinguished by its red
facial skin and legs. Non-breeding adults are
white, while breeding adults have gray head,
neck, mantle and scapulars.
Once widely distributed through
China, Japan and Siberia, the crested ibis is now
one of the most endangered birds in the world.
The only known remaining population in the wild
is in Shaanxi Province in central China.
This bird breeds in areas with
a combination of tall trees for nesting and
roosting and wetlands or agricultural land for
feeding. In winter, the main feeding habitats are
rice fields, river banks and reservoirs, mainly
close to human settlements.
Crested ibis congregate in flocks, but in
spring they form pairs and move to nesting areas.
The crested ibis feeds in shallow water,
probing the mud for eels, frogs, crabs, river
snails and other molluscs, beetles, and fish.
Breeding pairs build their flimsy twig nests
high in trees. The female lays three to four
eggs, which are incubated by both parents.
The crested ibis is designated in Japan as a
Special Bird for Protection, and in Korea as
National Treasure No. 198. It also has full legal
protection in the former Soviet Union.
genus & species Nipponia nipon
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