|Conservation status||Florida population much lower than historical levels, and has continued to decline in recent decades. Total range in United States has increased somewhat, with northward spread on Atlantic Coast. Vulnerable to loss of feeding and nesting habitat.|
|Family||Ibises and Spoonbills|
|Habitat||Salt, brackish, and fresh marshes, rice fields, mangroves. May forage in any kind of shallow water, commonly flying to feed in fresh water even in coastal regions. Foraging sites include marshes, mudflats, flooded pastures, lake edges, mangrove lagoons, grassy fields. Nests in mangroves, swamps, dense thickets, or marshes.|
Forages by walking slowly in shallow water, sweeping bill from side to side and probing at bottom. Also forages on land, especially on mud or in short grass. Finds food by touch while probing, by sight at other times, seizing items from surface. White Ibises may steal food from each other and, in turn, have food stolen from them by larger species.
2-3, up to 5. Pale blue-green to white, blotched with brown. Incubation is by both sexes, averages 21 days. Young: Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. Young may clamber about near nest after 3 weeks, can make short flights after 4-5 weeks, capable of sustained flight at 6 weeks, may leave colony to forage with adults after 7 weeks.
Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. Young may clamber about near nest after 3 weeks, can make short flights after 4-5 weeks, capable of sustained flight at 6 weeks, may leave colony to forage with adults after 7 weeks.
Varied; includes many crustaceans. Diet is quite variable, but crayfish and crabs are major items. Also eats insects, snails, frogs, marine worms, snakes, small fish.
First breeds at age of 2 years. Breeds in colonies, sometimes mixed with other wading birds. Displays of male include ritualized preening, leaning over and grasping twig in bill, pointing bill skyward and lowering head onto back. Nest sites in mangroves, trees, thickets, usually 2-15' above ground or water, sometimes higher or on ground. Nest built by both sexes, male bringing most material, female doing most of building. Material often stolen from nests of other pairs. Nest is usually platform of sticks, sometimes of cordgrass or reeds.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Present throughout year in most of breeding range, but numbers much lower in winter in northern areas; some banded birds from United States recovered in Mexico, Cuba, northern South America. Singles and small groups may wander far north and inland after breeding season. Strays from western Mexico sometimes appear in southwest.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsGrunts and growls.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the White Ibis
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the White Ibis
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.