Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon)

Crested Ibis

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Threskiornithidae | [latin] Nipponia nippon | [authority] Temminck, 1835 | [UK] Crested Ibis | [FR] Ibis nippon | [DE] Nipponibis | [ES] Ibis nipon | [NL] Japanse Kuifibis


Monotypic species


The Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon), also known as the Japanese Crested Ibis or Toki is a large (up to 78.5 cm long), white-plumaged ibis of pine forests. Its head is partially bare, showing red skin, and it has a dense crest of white plumes on the nape. This species is the only member of the genus Nipponia.

Physical charateristics

Distinctive bushy-crested ibis with red facial skin and legs. Non-breeding adults are white while breeding adults have grey head, neck, mantle and scapulars.

Listen to the sound of Crested Ibis

[audio: Ibis.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 55 cm size max.: 78 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 45 days fledging max.: 50 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : Northeast China. Nipponia nippon historically nested in the Russian Far East, Japan, and China, and was a non-breeding visitor to North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan (China), but is now extinct in almost all of its former range. The only known remaining population is in Shaanxi province in central mainland China, where it is a localised breeder


It breeds in areas with a combination of tall trees for nesting and roosting and wetlands or agricultural land for feeding. In winter, the main feeding habitats are rice-fields, river banks and reservoirs, mainly close to human settlements, and it appears to tolerate human activities in these areas. Current breeding sites are from 470-1,300 m, but historical information indicates lowlands may be optimal


During the nesting season, breeding pairs become territorial and usually choose a nesting site near to good feeding grounds. The nest is a flimsy, twig platform built in the fork of a large tree, at heights of up to 25 meter above the ground. Each year, around March and April, a single clutch of one to five eggs is laid and incubated by both the male and female for 28 days. The young fledge after about 6-7 weeks. At the end of the breeding season, the young leave the nesting sites, while the adults rejoin non-territorial flocks

Feeding habits

It feeds on crabs, frogs, small fish (particularly loach), river snails, other molluscs and beetles.

Video Crested Ibis


copyright: J. del Hoyo


This species has become extinct over most of its former range and is now limited to a single area, where it has an extremely small population. Although its population continues to increase, and there are now perhaps more than 250 mature individuals, its habitat continues to decline in quality , justifying its retention as Endangered.
In 1981 only seven birds (four adults and three chicks) were known in the wild. By June 2002, the wild population was maintaining a steady increase and numbered 140 birds, and the captive population (in two breeding centres) was over 130 birds. The most recent population estimate is of c. 500 wild individuals in 2006, but it is unclear whether this yet comprises 250 or more mature individuals. Reproductive success is currently quite high, both in the wild and captivity, and there are plans to begin reintroduction of birds to Sado Island, Japan, in 2008. In its remaining range, the area of winter rice-fields has declined with conversion to dry wheat production, reducing the available area of feeding habitat. Most remaining rice-paddies are in mountain areas with poor irrigation facilities. Dissection has shown that 80% of birds found dead in the wild had very little food in their stomachs, and starvation (especially in winter) could be a significant cause of mortality. As the population increases and birds range more widely, controlling the use of agrochemicals at feeding-sites is likely to become more difficult. Birds are occasionally shot by hunters. Genetic diversity is very low, which given the very small founder population, is inevitable
Crested Ibis status Endangered


Populations of C China, including only known surviving one, sedentary; former populations of Siberia, Manchuria and N China wintered in SE China and Hainan. In Japan, birds that bred in C Japan apparently sedentary, while those from S Hokkaido and N Honshu migrated S in winter, with records as far S as Ryukyu Is. Flies in line or in V-formation.

Distribution map

Crested Ibis distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *