Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

Glossy Ibis

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Threskiornithidae | [latin] Plegadis falcinellus | [authority] Linnaeus, 1766 | [UK] Glossy Ibis | [FR] Ibis falcinelle | [DE] Brauner Sichler | [ES] Ibis Castana | [NL] Zwarte Ibis


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Plegadis falcinellus Worldwide widespread


Plegadis is a bird genus in the family Threskiornithidae. Member species are found on every continent except Antarctica as well as a number of islands. Among the extensive vertebrate and invertebrate fossils recovered from the Rexroad local fauna of the Upper Pliocene of Meade County, Kansas are remains of the Recent species of ibis Mesembrinibis cayennensis and Phimosus infuscatus. The extinct species Plegadis gracilis and an ibis of the genus Eudocimus were also identified from this fauna. Ecological information derived from these ibises and previous work indicate that this area probably had a warm, moist, frost-free, tropical climate as is found today in parts of northern South America where ibises of these genera are sympatric.

Physical charateristics

Unmistakable because is the only species in Europe with greenish-black plumage, long black legs and long curved bill. The size is bigger than 50 cm. Characteristic wetland species, breeding colonies are usually mixed with other herons. Birds may feed tens of kilometres from the breeding colonies. The Glossy Ibis feeds mainly on aquatic animals. Migrant.

Listen to the sound of Glossy Ibis

[audio: Ibis.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 88 cm wingspan max.: 105 cm
size min.: 55 cm size max.: 65 cm
incubation min.: 20 days incubation max.: 23 days
fledging min.: 26 days fledging max.: 23 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Worldwide oriental region: widespread


Characteristic wetland species, breeding colonies are usually mixed with other herons. Lakes, swamps, lagoons, sewage ponds, rivers wet meadows and irrigated cultivation.
Roosting sites in large trees often far from water. Nests in freshwater or brackish wetlands, usually in tall dense trees or in low trees or bushes over or near water.


Breeds may in Black Sea area, March-May in North America, during rains or just after in most of Africa. In trees or bushes growing in water, at heights to 5-7 m, or in dense reeds or rushes. Colonial; from a few to thousands of pairs, usually with other Ciconiiformes, also with Pygmy Cormorant. Nest is compact platform of twigs or reeds lined with leaves. 3-4 eggs, incubation 20-23 days. chicks have sooty black down.

Feeding habits

Birds may feed tens of kilometers from the breeding colonies. The Glossy Ibis feeds mainly on aquatic animals. Insects: grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, locusts and small reptiles, frogs and fish. Usually feeds in small flocks by “walks slowly” and probes bill into mud and shallow water, or takes prey from surface sometimes runs after prey.

Video Glossy Ibis


copyright: youtube


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 1,100,000-3,300,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Plegadis falcinellus is a patchily distributed summer visitor to southern and southeastern
Europe, which accounts for a tiny proportion of its global breeding range.
Its European breeding population is relatively small (<22,000 pairs), and underwent a moderate decline between 1970-1990. Although key populations in Russia and Azerbaijan were stable during 1990-2000, the species continued to decline in parts of south-eastern Europe, and underwent a moderate decline (>10%) overall.
Consequently, it is provisionally evaluated as Declining.
This bird has a nearly cosmopolitan but very fragmented distribution. In Europe it breeds in the Mediterranean regions, the Balkan Peninsula and the eastern parts of the continent. The population of the European Union comprises 52-89 breeding pairs, which represents only 0.5% of the total European population. Being fairly unpredictable in the occupation of its breeding sites, its trends are often difficult to assess, but globally it has undergone a strong decline since the latter part of last century, and its breeding area have definitely contracted. This trend seems even to have been accelerated during the last few decades. The main reasons for this are wetland reclamation, hunting and disturbance of breeding colonies
Glossy Ibis status Least Concern


Migratory and dispersive, with considerable nomadic element. Flocks form after breeding, adults and juveniles often separated, and latter begin dispersing in all directions. Southerly aspects of post-fledging dispersals merge into autumn migration, which becomes dominant September, as adults and young withdraw south of breeding range. Winters in small numbers Mediterranean basin west to Morocco (where recent increase) but most European breeders probably trans-Saharan migrants; many spring and autumn records from Saharan oases, and common October-March in steppe zone southern edge of western desert. Return movement through Mediterranean basin and Black Sea late March, some still moving early May, though colonies re-occupied April. Some spring overshooting, with rare April-May appearances north to Britain and Germany.

Distribution map

Glossy Ibis distribution range map

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