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Scarlet Ibis Fact File

Eudocimus ruber

Credit: Under License

Weight

1.4kg

(3.1lbs)

Length

55-63cm

(21.7-24.8in)

Lifespan

Wild 16-20 years

Captive 31 years

Diet

Carnivore

Crustaceans, Fish

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The Blushing Bird of South America!

The scarlet ibis is instantly recognizable for the red color of the feathers. This is not naturally occurring. Instead this color is taken from the crustaceans on which they feed.

They are primarily carnivores and supplement the crustaceans which they feed on with fish, molluscs and insects.

Females raise their eggs in a nest which is a loose platform of sticks.

This species is threatened by habitat loss which is leading to a decrease in their population.

Read on to learn more about these beautiful birds.

Appearance

What does the Scarlet Ibis look like?

The scarlet ibis is a bird which is bright red. Only the wing tips differ from the characteristic scarlet color being black.

Juveniles display a mix of greys, whites and blacks across their body.

Like most wading birds they have long legs and a long neck.

Their red color is unlike any other shorebird in the world. It comes from their diet being heavily focused on red crustaceans. During the second moult the bird begins to change from the blacks and greys to red. This progresses out from the back over a period of 2 years.

The scarlet ibis is a bird which is bright red. The adult scarlet ibis measures about 55-63cm (21.7-24.8in) with an average weight of 1.4kg (3.1lbs). The scarlet ibis has a wingspan which typically measures 54 cm (21.3in).

They have a long, curved bill. This changes color throughout the year. During breeding season it becomes black while outside of this period it is reddish. Often the bill of males is thicker than that of females.

The male is typically slightly larger than the females. They have similar coloration and patterns.

Adaptations

How does the Scarlet Ibis survive in its habitat?


This species is equipped with partially webbed feet. These help them to wade through watery areas. Their legs are also elongated to help keep them above the waterline and dry.

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Diet

What does the Scarlet Ibis eat?

These birds are considered carnivores. They survive on a diet of beetles, shrimps, insects, molluscs, small fish, crayfish and amphibians.

The scarlet ibis may obtain food by probing in the sand or under plants with its beak. Their main sense during feeding is touch rather than sight. They may also feed by swinging their bill from side to side in shallow water.

In zoos their diet is regularly supplemented with beetroot and carrot to maintain the vibrant red color.

Learn more about the Scarlet Ibis in this video from AMI: Accessible Media Inc. on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Scarlet Ibis?

The Scarlet Ibis is a resident of South America and some of the Caribbean islands. They can be found in Argentina, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela and Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago.

They are most prolific in the Llanos region an area of western Venezuela and Eastern Colombia.

Habitat

Where can the Scarlet Ibis survive?

They inhabit wetlands and other areas of shoreline. They also range through mud flats, shorelines, mangroves, marshes and rainforest. They will gather near fresh and salt water estuaries.

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

Credit: Under License

Reproduction

How does the Scarlet Ibis produce its young?

Scarlet ibis breeding season begins in mid-September. The mating pair will build a simple nest consisting of a loose platform of sticks.

The male will preen, shake, bill pop, head rub and perform high flights to attract the attention of the female. Generally egg laying takes place from November to January.

There is a gestation period of just under a week before the female will lay three to five eggs. The eggs are colored blue or green with brown patches.

The male and female share incubation duties over the 19-23 day period. The pair will remain faithful for the entire time they are raising the chicks.

Fledgling takes place at around 35 days old and they become independent at 75 days old.

Sexual maturity is reached between 4 and 5 years old.

Behavior

What does the Scarlet Ibis do during its day?

Scarlet ibises live in colonies which generally consist of about 30 birds. At some times these colonies will swell to thousands for protection.

When flying flocks form a V-shape. This makes flying easier and occasionally the bird at the front changes to reduce the fatigue this bird experiences. When flying the neck and legs are stretched out.

To gain safety they have been known to associate with storks, spoonbills, egrets, herons and ducks while flying or feeding.

Feeding takes place during the day. At night they will gather in flocks in trees to roost. Nesting in groups will allow them to take advantage of safety in numbers if a predator attacks.

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

Credit: Under License

Predators and Threats

What stops the Scarlet Ibis from surviving and thriving?

Natural predators of the scarlet ibis include humans, big cats, racoons, crocodilians and birds of prey.

Numbers of this species are considered to be declining across their range. This is a result of habitat loss. Some may also be captured for food and for their feathers.

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Quick facts

The scarlet ibis is the national bird of Trinidad.

The scarlet ibis is closely related to the American white ibis with some biologists now calling for them to be listed as the same species.

Their species name, ruber, roughly translates as red.

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

Credit: Under License

References

Alderton, D. and Barrett, P., 2019. The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world. Lorenz Books.

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

BirdLife International 2016. Eudocimus ruber. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697415A93612751. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22697415A93612751.en. Downloaded on 21 April 2020.

BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Eudocimus ruber. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/04/2020

Phelps, K. 2004. "Eudocimus ruber" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 21, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Eudocimus_ruber/

Seaworld.org. 2022. Scarlet Ibis Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <https://seaworld.org/animals/facts/birds/scarlet-ibis/> [Accessed 5 January 2022].

National Aquarium. 2022. Scarlet Ibis. [online] Available at: <https://aqua.org/explore/animals/scarlet-ibis> [Accessed 5 January 2022].

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Credit: Under License

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