Last updates


Legal issues

Fr: Ibis plombé
All : Stirnbandibis
Esp : Bandurria Mora
Ital: Ibis plumbeo
Nd: Grijze Ibis
Port: Maçarico-real


Philippe et Aline Wolfer

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

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

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

XENO-CANTO – Sharing Birds sounds from around the world

El Zoológico Electrónico (Damisela)

Aves de Uruguay


Home page

Summary cards

Plumbeous Ibis
Theristicus caerulescens

Pelecaniformes Order – Threskiornithidae Family

Length: 71-76 cm

The Plumbeous Ibis is a handsome bird of open country in central South America.   

Adult has deep grey coloration overall, with paler greyish and brownish spots and fringes on back and upperwing coverts. The flight feathers are dark grey to blackish.
Underparts are slightly paler grey.
On the grey head, the forehead is white. We can see elongated paler grey feathers forming a bushy crest on the nape and the hindneck. The foreneck is streaked pale grey to whitish. Lores and chin are grey and featherless.
The long, down-curved bill is blackish. Eyes are red-orange. Legs and feet are red.
Both sexes are similar.
The juvenile is not described.

The Plumbeous Ibis utters rapid series of cackles from the nest-site and when perched “ti ti ti ti – tu tu tu tu – ti ti –tu tu tu tu…” descending in the second half of the phrase.
It also utters cackles while foraging “kuk-kuk…kuk-kuk…kuk-kuk”, also used between mates as contact call.
Calls are more or less rapid according to the situation.

The Plumbeous Ibis frequents lagoons, dams and seasonally flooded areas, ricefields, ponds and marshes.
This bird is an open country species, found in pastures, grassland and savannah. It can be seen up to 600 metres of elevation.
During the breeding season, the Plumbeous Ibis nests in large trees close to the water.

The Plumbeous Ibis is found in Bolivia and C Brazil to Paraguay, N Argentina and Uruguay.

The Plumbeous Ibis feeds on insects, apple snails of genus Pomacea and other aquatic molluscs. This bird often feeds solitary or in pairs, and both mates communicate with some cackles “kuk-kuk…kuk-kuk”.
It probes into the mud thanks to the long curved bill, perfectly adapted for reaching the preys in water and mud with quick and repeated movements.

They can be seen in mixed groups with other species, often Ciconiiformes and other large aquatic species.

In the background with a

Southern Screamer

It may rest alone or in pairs in trees, with retracted neck and standing on one leg.
Aggressive behaviour is uncommon, but when some dispute occurs, they peck at each other with the bill, or fluff the mantle feathers as threat display. These disputes are observed in territorial defence between neighbours.

The Plumbeous Ibis is probably sedentary in its range, with some wandering movements.

The Plumbeous Ibis has long, broad wings allowing powerful and rapid flight, alternating flapping flight and glides (less common). It flies with legs and neck outstretched.

Breeding season occurs in August-September in Brazil, but usually from September.
The Plumbeous Ibis is monogamous. There is little information about the sexual behaviour of this species, but displays between mates probably include “bowing”, “mutual-billing” and presentation of nest material.

The nest is placed in tree, between 8 and 25 metres above the ground. The nest-site is located in vegetation along water. The nest is a platform made with twigs and plant matter associated with mud and dung. The cup is lined with grass and leaves. The female builds the nest with materials brought by the male. This species is usually solitary nester.

Female lays 2-3 creamy-white eggs with darker markings. Incubation lasts about 28 days, shared by both adults, but mainly by female. The chicks are semi-altricial. They have straight bill which curves as the chick grows.
They are fed by regurgitation by both parents. The fledging period is unknown.  

The Plumbeous Ibis feeds on insects, aquatic invertebrates, molluscs, and apple snails of the genus Pomacea as the Snail Kite and the Limpkin.  
During winter, they gather in loose flocks when the food resources become scarce.

The Plumbeous Ibis is an uncommon species, but it may be locally common within its range.
They seem to be increasing in N and W Paraguay.
This species is not threatened at this moment.