Fr: Ibis falcinelle
Ang: Glossy Ibis 
All: Sichler
Esp: Morito Común
Ita: Mignattaio
Nd: Zwarte Ibis
Sd: bronsibis


Roger Ahlman
Pbase Galleries Peru and Ecuador

John Anderson
John Anderson Photo Galleries

Didier Buysse
Vision d’Oiseaux

Jean Michel Fenerole
Photos d’Oiseaux du monde

Steve Garvie
RAINBIRDER Photo galleries

Tom Grey
Tom Grey's Bird Pictures & Tom Grey's Bird Pictures 2

Patrick Ingremeau

Jean-Claude Jamoulle
A la rencontre des Oiseaux

Otto Plantema
Trips around the world

Alan & Ann Tate
AA Bird Photography

Ingo Waschkies
Bird Photography

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International – Data Zone

Birds of the World

All About Birds


Thai National Parks

Birdlife Australia

New Zealand Birds Online


Nature Works  

What Bird-The ultimate Bird Guide (Mitchell Waite) 

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia


Home page 

Summary cards


Glossy Ibis
Plegadis falcinellus

Pelecaniformes Order – Threskiornithidae Family

The Glossy Ibis is a very widespread species breeding in scattered warm regions of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, but also along the Atlantic Coast of North America and in the Caribbean region.
It was probably coming from the Old World. The bird has spread from Africa to N South America in the 19th century, and then to North America. It was found for the first time in New Jersey in 1817, and expanded its range to both north and west in the 1980s.
The species is migratory and moves southwards after breeding.
It frequents a variety of wet areas where it forages in shallow waters, searching for insects and crayfish. It nests in shrubs surrounded by marshy areas, and usually breeds in colonies. Both parents share the nesting duties.
The Glossy Ibis is primarily threatened by degradation and loss of wetland habitats, but currently, the species is locally abundant and not globally threatened.

Length: 49-68 cm
Wingspan: 80-95 cm
Weight: 530-768 g

The Glossy Ibis often appears dark to blackish in poor light or at a distance, but its beautiful colours from deep maroon and emerald to bronze and violet are enhanced by a good light.
The Glossy Ibis in breeding plumage has bright chestnut head, neck, upper back and underparts, whereas lower back, wings and tail are glossy bronze, purple and green.
On the head, the facial skin is blue-black from base of bill to eye. It is bordered by a narrow line of pale blue skin, but not around the eye. This detail remains more or less visible, depending on the season.
The long, curved bill is grey to brownish. The eyes are brown. Legs and feet may vary from dark brown to olive-grey.
The female has similar plumage but she is smaller than male.  

The Glossy Ibis in non-breeding plumage is usually duller, with head and neck finely but densely streaked whitish. On the head, the contrast with the fine pale blue line is weaker.

The immature resembles non-breeding adult, with less glossy green sheen. The plumage is browner on head and neck, with some white (variable) on forehead, throat and foreneck.

The Glossy Ibis breeds in a wide, discontinuous range from S Europe, Africa and Madagascar, to C and S Asia, Philippines, Sulawesi and Java, S New Guinea and Australia (except in the arid interior). It also occurs along the Atlantic Coast of North America and West Indies, to NC Venezuela.
During winter, it can be found along the Gulf Coast, in Florida and along the Atlantic Coast, N to N South Carolina. It is uncommon and even rare in Bahamas, Bermuda and Panama.

Most European populations winter in Africa where the species is resident. It is also resident in India. Other populations disperse widely after breeding.
The species occurs now in Spain in Doñana, and a growing trend for Spanish populations appears to winter in Britain and Ireland. The species is also seen in New Zealand in July.  

The Glossy Ibis breeds in freshwater or brackish wetlands with dense emergent vegetation, especially reeds, papyrus and rushes, but also trees and bushes. It often favours marshes near lakes or rivers, but it also frequents lagoons, flood-plains, wet meadows and various other wet areas.
It is uncommon in coastal regions including estuaries, deltas, salt marshes and coastal lagoons.
It usually forages and feeds in very shallow water where it can probe into the mud. These birds roost in large trees fairly distant from the feeding sites.

The Glossy Ibis is often silent far from the breeding colonies. But at colonies, the breeding adults utter croaks, grunts, rattles and a hoarse “grrrr”. The begging calls given by the young birds are described as “chhheee-eee-eeerr”.
When the bird is flying, it usually produces a low-pitched grunt “graa…graa…graa” or also “uhrr…uhrr…uhrr”. The feeding flocks produce a subdued babbling.

The Glossy Ibis feeds mainly on insects such as aquatic beetles, flies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, crickets and also spiders. But the diet also includes frogs, tadpoles, lizards, small snakes, leeches, small fish and snails.
It usually forages by wading in shallow water where it probes into the mud for prey, thanks to the long, curved bill. But it may pick up insects and other prey items from ground or water surface.

The Glossy Ibis preens and cleans its plumage when not foraging, and this task can sometimes take a long time.
They are gregarious, resting, foraging and breeding together in large flocks and colonies. They roost usually in trees, sometimes at ground level, and often several kilometres from the foraging areas.

Aggressive behaviour is not frequent, and only some threat behaviour with mantle’s feathers raised is observed between neighbours, both at roost and when defending the territory. They are very territorial during the breeding season.

They are monogamous and pair formation normally occurs at the colony. The male establishes a small territory and defends it from rivals, using flapping wings, head-stretching, pursuit flights and others displays.
The courtship displays are poorly known, but they usually include bowing, intertwining of necks, presentation of nest material and billing during which the birds shake their heads in unison while holding their bills. The pair bond is generally maintained only during the breeding season.

Scarlet Ibis on the right

The Glossy Ibis is migratory and dispersive. Adults and young disperse after breeding, usually in separate flocks, with frequent records in N of the breeding range. Vagrants are observed far from colonies in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Seychelles.        
They usually move southwards after breeding but populations of W Mediterranean regions are becoming sedentary. In South Africa, some birds are sedentary whereas others disperse N after breeding, as far as Zambia. It is a non-breeding visitor to SW and W Australia and Tasmania. In the USA, vagrants are recorded W of the breeding range, including the Great Plains and California.

The flocks of Glossy Ibises tend to fly in V formation. The flight is direct with active wingbeats interspersed with short glides. This species flies with outstretched drooping neck and slightly drooping legs.

The breeding season varies according to the range. The laying occurs between April and July in Spain (Doñana), in May in Black Sea, from March to May in E North America, between June and September in Cuba, in late January in S India, from October to February in Australia, and during rains or just after over most of Africa.  
The Glossy Ibis breeds colonially, sometimes up to 1000 pairs, usually alongside herons (Ardeidae) and storks (Ciconiidae).
The nest-site is in low trees over water or land, in shrubs, also on the ground on island. Both adults build the nest, a bulky platform made of sticks and marshy vegetation. It is placed between 1 and occasionally 7 metres high. Nest material is added throughout both incubation and chick-feeding.

The female lays 3-4 pale blue/green eggs. She incubates more than the male, all the night and part of the day, during about 21 days. When the male arrives at nest, it often brings small branches and green leaves. The female adds them to the nest with ritualized movements.
At hatching, the chicks have sooty-black down. They are fed by regurgitation by both parents, first by the female with the food brought at nest by the male, and later, by both adults. They usually wander or climb around the nest at 2-3 weeks. They try to fly at 4-5 weeks old, and they can fly well at 6-7 weeks. They follow the adults to the feeding areas.

The Glossy Ibis is threatened by degradation and loss of the wetland habitats caused by drainage for irrigation and clearing, grazing and burning. Invasive exotic plant species also degrade these areas. Local hunting, disturbance and pesticides are important problems too.

The global population is placed in the band 200,000/2,300,000 individuals. The overall trend is decreasing, although a significant increase over the last 40 years is reported in North America, and the European population is suspected to be increasing too.
The Glossy Ibis is not considered globally threatened, and the species is currently evaluated as Least Concern.

Glossy Ibis foraging

in marshes in Spain