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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Species Fact Profile: Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

Scarlet Ibis
Eudocimus ruber (Linnaeus, 1758)

Range: Northern South America
Habitat: Wetlands, Mangroves
Diet: Crustaceans, Aquatic Insects, Mollusks, Frogs, Small Fish
Social Grouping: Large Colonies
Reproduction: Nest colonially, beginning in mid-September.  Polygynous breeders.  3-5 glossy eggs laid in each nest, hatching after 19-23 days.  Chicks are altricial.  Chicks fledge after 35 days and are independent at 75 days
Lifespan: 30 Years (Captivity)
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern, CITES Appendix II

  • Body length 55-75 centimeters.  Wingspan 52-56 centimeters.  Weight 600-900 grams.  Slightly webbed feet, long, thin, down-curved beak
  • Coloration is bright red, with blue-black wing tips.  Adults are more brightly colored than juveniles.  Color will fade in captive birds unless their diet is supplemented, often with beetroot or carrot
  • Nomadic, flying between interior wetlands and coastal habitats in search of food or in response to changes in water level.  
  • Vagrant ibises have been reported throughout the Caribbean and parts of the United States
  • Primary predators include wild cats and birds of prey.  It is believed that protection from predators is the main reason for the colonial behavior of the species
  • Often encountered in mxed-species foraging flocks with herons, spoonbills, storks, and ducks.  Have been observed following cattle and other large animals, feeding on insects disturbed by their movements
  • Sometimes considered to be the same species as the American white ibis (Eudocimus albus)
  • Feathers were used for ornamentation by Indian tribes in pre-Colombian South America  Also hunted for meat and eggs
  • Sometimes considered a nuisances due to their foraging (tearing up lawns, agricultural fields, golf courses), especially when they gather in large numbers
  • One of the two national birds of Trinidad and Tobago (the other being the rufous-vented chachalaca, or "cocrico")

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