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Scarlet Ibis

Appearance

The scarlet ibis is a bird which is bright red. The adult scarlet ibis measures about 55-63cm (21.7-24.8in). The male is typically slightly larger than the females. These males will weigh about 1.4kg (3.1lbs). The scarlet ibis has a wingspan which typically measures 54 cm (21.3in).

Only the wing tip deviates from the characteristic scarlet colour. These tips are 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 colour is unlike any other shorebird in the world. 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 red colour comes from their diet being heavily focused on red crustaceans.

Diet

The scarlet ibis obtains food by probing in the sand or under plants with its beak. They live on a diet of beetles, shrimps, insects, molluscs, small fish, crayfish and amphibians.

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

scarlet ibis

Range map for the scarlet ibis. Public Domain

Scarlet Ibis

Scientific Name

Eudocimus ruber

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Height

55-63cm (21.7-24.8in)

Weight

1.4kg (3.1lbs)

Wingpsan

54cm (21.3in)

Lifespan

Wild 16-20 years

Record 31 years

Diet

Carnivorous

Range

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

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.

Reproduction

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 Janurary. There is a gestation period of just under a week before the female will lay three to five eggs. These are then incubated between the male and the female for 19-23 days. 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.

Behavior

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 them 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.

The scarlet ibis is preyed upon by humans, big cats and birds of prey.

Quick facts

The scarlet ibis is the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago.

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.

Scarlet Ibis

— AD —

Photo Credits


Under license.

References

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/

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

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