Black-faced Ibis (Theristicus melanopis)

Black-faced Ibis

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Threskiornithidae | [latin] Theristicus melanopis | [authority] Gmelin, 1789 | [UK] Black-faced Ibis | [FR] Ibis a face noire | [DE] Schwarzzugel-Ibis | [ES] Bandurria de Collar | [NL] Zwartmaskeribis


Monotypic species


Theristicus is a genus of birds in the Threskiornithidae family. They are found in open, grassy habitats in South America. All have a long, decurved dark bill, relatively short reddish legs that do no extend beyond the tail in flight (unlike e.g. Eudocimus and Plegadis), and at least the back is grey. Formerly, T. caudatus included T. melanopis as a subspecies, but today all major authorities accept the split.

Physical charateristics

They have gray upperparts, black bellies, red legs, yellow heads and necks, and long, gray decurved bills. Subspecies melanopis is slightly darker overall with a larger area of black skin visible on the throat.

Listen to the sound of Black-faced Ibis

[audio: Ibis.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 100 cm wingspan max.: 110 cm
size min.: 71 cm size max.: 76 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


South America : West, South. The Andean subspecies branickii is resident from Ecuador to northern Chile, while subspecies melanopis breeds in southern Chile and southern Argentina. An isolated population of melanopis also occurs in coastal Peru.


Inhabits temperate grasslands, marshes, pond banks, and open forests


Nesting occurs in colonies, sometimes with cormorants (Phalacrocorax sp.) or Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax). The nest is a large pile of sticks or reeds situated on a cliff, on the ground, amongst reeds, or in a tree. Clutch size is 2-3 eggs which are incubated by the female for about 4 weeks

Feeding habits

The Black-necked Ibis generally travels in pairs or small groups that can be seen flying between feeding areas and foraging by walking and probing the ground with their bills. They eat insects, worms, amphibians, and occasionally rodents.

Video Black-faced Ibis


copyright: Ron Hoff


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Black-faced Ibis status Least Concern


S populations of Chile and Argentina migrate to Pampas in N Argentina. In Tierra del Fuego is breeding summer visitor; spring migration starts in late Aug and autumn migration in late Jan, with most birds leaving by end of Apr; very few records of birds overwintering in area. Flies in lines, in flocks over 100 birds during migration, sometimes at great heights. Irregular vagrant to Falkland Is, in parties of up to 7 birds.

Distribution map

Black-faced Ibis distribution range map

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