The Robinson Library
The Robinson Library >> Order Ciconiiformes
Family Threskiornithidae

[thres kih or nith' uh dE] Ibises

drawing of a scarlet ibis


Ibises are medium- to large-size wading and terrestrial birds, ranging from 18 to 41 inches in height. They have a longish neck and legs, and the males are generally larger than the females and have longer bills. All species have bare spots, usually on the face or throat.


One to six eggs are laid, depending on species, and are incubated for 20 to 30 days, again depending on species. Chicks fledge at 25 to 55 days.


The ibis uses its long bill to probe for grasshoppers, beetles, worms, crustaceans, fish, and carrion.

Social Life

Most ibis species live in large flocks. They even fly in flocks, either in a regular line or in a "V" formation grouping. They beat their wings in unison and even go from flapping to gliding at the same time. They nest in groups that can number from hundreds to thousands of breeding pairs. Parents share nest-building duties and both help care for their young. Nesting sites may be found in tall trees, bushes, and even the side of high cliffs. Most nest sites are found near the water.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Ciconiiformes
family Threskiornithidae
genera & species
Bostrychia bocagei dward olive ibis
Bostrychia rara
spot-breasted ibis
Eudocimus ruber scarlet ibis
Geronticus calvus southern bald ibis
Geronticus eremita Waldrapp ibis
Lophotibis cristata urschi Madagascar crested ibis
Nipponia nipon crested ibis
Pseudibis davisoni white-shouldered ibis
Pseudibis gigantean giant ibis
Threskiornis aethiopica African sacred ibis
Threskiornis melanocephalus black-headed ibis
Threskiornis molucca Australian white ibis

San Diego Zoo

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The Robinson Library >> Order Ciconiiformes

This page was last updated on June 20, 2018.