Fr: Ibis huppé
Ang: Madagascar Crested Ibis
All: Schopfibis
Esp: Ibis Crestado
Ita: Ibis del Madagascar
Nd:  Kuifibis
Sd: vitvingad ibis
Mal: Akoholahiala, Akohon'al, Akohon'ala, Akohovohitra, Lampirana


Jean Michel Fenerole
Photos d’Oiseaux du monde

Dubi Shapiro
Dubi Shapiro Photo Galleries & Dubi Shapiro's Pictures on IBC

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

Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Par Roger Safford, Adrian Skerrett, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1472924118, 9781472924117- Editeur: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

Nancy’s Bird Journal

SORA - THE WILSON BULLETIN - The Madagascar Crested Ibis, a threatened species in an endemic and endangered avifauna

Storks, Ibises and Spoonbills of the World Par James Hancock, James A. Kushlan, M. Philip Kahl


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Madagascar Crested Ibis
Lophotibis cristata

Pelecaniformes Order – Threskiornithidae Family

The Madagascar Crested Ibis is endemic to Madagascar where it frequents a variety of woodlands and forests up to 2,000 metres of elevation. Very distinctive, its brown plumage contrasts with the conspicuous white wings, and the long glossy crest adds some elegance to the bird’s appearance.
It forages in shallow water and on the ground and feeds on insects, spiders, reptiles and amphibians. The breeding season takes place during the rainy season.
The Madagascar Crested Ibis is heavily hunted and trapped, and it is threatened by habitat loss through intense deforestation. The population is decreasing rapidly and this species is currently listed as Near Threatened.

Length: 50 cm

The Madagascar Crested Ibis is the largest bird species of Madagascar forest.  The body is rufous brown overall, except the white wings. The long crest is dark green and white with green metallic sheen including on the hindneck. Chin, throat and neck are brown. On the head, the bare skin of the face is bright red and extends around the eye.
The long, down-curved bill is lime green at base, becoming olive at tip, but it appears mostly pale horn. The eyes are orange-red. Legs and feet are coral red. There is a small membrane between the toes.
Male and female are similar.
The juvenile has duller bare parts with grey bill with black tip, brown eyes, dull yellowish-pink bare skin around the eye, and pinkish-yellow legs and feet. It has browner head and shorter crest. The white wings are speckled brown, and there is some white on the tail.

The Madagascar Crested Ibis has two subspecies.
L.c. cristata (described above) occurs in N and E Madagascar.
L.c. urschi is found in W and S Madagascar. This race has mostly greenish-blue gloss on the crest, and little or no white. Hindcrown and forehead are golden-brown. Mantle, scapulars and underparts are paler chestnut-brown, and the uppertail-coverts are glossed deep violet. This race is larger than nominate.

The Madagascar Crested Ibis frequents the primary forest including humid and dry forest according to the range.
In the east, it occurs in dense shaded areas, mainly plantations, and also in secondary forest and slightly degraded habitat.
The race urschi is sometimes seen in mangroves and favours damp places with thick leaf litter or along streams. It often avoids the forest edge.
The Madagascar Crested Ibis is found from sea-level up to 2,000 metres of elevation, but mainly below 1,200 metres.

The Madagascar Crested Ibis is fairly vocal. The long, low-pitched advertising call is given from perch at night, at dusk or in the early morning. This sequence of 5-20 seconds includes wheezy or growling notes that grade slightly up and down scale “werg-weerg-waug-wugh-weeerg-weergh-werg-wugh…” The sounds can sometimes be higher and excited, and sometimes given in duet with the second bird uttering single “werg-wugh”
While foraging, it also gives quieter “guguguguh” calls. The alarm call is a drawn-out creaking. During the courtship, one bird responds to another by a short wail, before uttering a series of short-harsh notes. The sounds are quieter and softer around the nest.  

The Madagascar Crested Ibis feeds on invertebrates such as insects (adults and larvae), earthworms, snails and spiders. It also takes small vertebrates including frogs and reptiles.
It forages in shallow water and on the ground, and often in pairs. They walk and are very active, often stopping to probe in humid forest soil, moss or thick leaf litter. They may wade in shallow small streams or pick up small prey from various surfaces.
It finds prey by touch, thanks to the sensitivity of the bill-tip bone.

The Madagascar Crested Ibis is monogamous and the nest is usually reused in several following years. Unlike numerous ibises, this species is solitary nester. Both mates share the nest-building and the nesting duties. Some manipulations of nest material are ritualized and are part of courtship displays, but we can suggest that the long, glossy crest and the conspicuous white wings are enhanced during the displays, probably accompanied by calls.

The Madagascar Crested Ibis appears to be sedentary in Madagascar.
The flight is powerful and rapid, alternating flapping flight and glides.

The breeding season takes place between September and December, but mainly October/December, at the beginning of the rainy season.
The nest of the Madagascar Crested Ibis is a large platform made with stick and branches and placed at 6-10 metres above the ground, in major tree fork in forest.

The female lays 2-3 white eggs and both adults incubate during 20 and 31 days. The exact duration is unknown. The nesting period lasts at least 20-30 days (28-56 days depending on the species). The young probably depend on parents for some times after fledging.

The Madagascar Crested Ibis is threatened by heavy hunting and trapping, but also by habitat loss through intense deforestation, especially in the east of the island. However, it shows some degree of adaptability and uses other habitat types such as secondary forests and plantations.
The subspecies urschi is widespread and even locally common in the dry forests of W Madagascar.
The population is roughly estimated to number 6,700 mature individuals, and is suspected to be declining. This species is present in protected areas.
The Madagascar Crested Ibis is currently listed as Near Threatened.