White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)

White-faced Ibis

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Threskiornithidae | [latin] Plegadis chihi | [authority] Vieillot, 1817 | [UK] White-faced Ibis | [FR] Ibis a face blanche | [DE] Brillensichler | [ES] Morito Cariblanco | [NL] Amerikaanse Ibis


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Plegadis chihi NA, LA c USA to c Argentina


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

A long-legged marsh wader with a long, decurved bill. Deep purplish chestnut; suggests a large, blackish curlew. Flies in lines with its neck outstretched, alternately flapping and gliding. Breeding birds show a white border
at the base of the bill; also red legs and red lores. Immatures and non-breeding adults lack the white on the face and the red legs.

Listen to the sound of White-faced Ibis

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/CICONIIFORMES/Threskiornithidae/sounds/White-faced Ibis.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 46 cm size max.: 56 cm
incubation min.: 21 days incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America, Latin America : Central USA to Central Argentina


Freshwater marshes, irrigated land, tules.
For foraging, favors very shallow water, as in marshes, flooded pastures, irrigated fields. Sometimes in damp meadows with no standing water. Prefers freshwater marsh, but sometimes forages in salt marsh.


Breeds in colonies. Colony sites often shift from year to year with changes in water levels.
Nest: Site is usually in dense marsh growth (such as bulrush or cattails) or in low shrubs or trees above water, sometimes on ground on islands. Nest (built by b
oth sexes) is bulky platform of bulrushes or other plant stems, with depression at center. Material gathered close to nest site, sometimes stolen from vacant nests of other birds.
Clutch 3 -4, sometimes 2 -5. Clutches of more than 5 probably result from other females laying eggs in nest. Eggs pale blue-green to dark turquoise. Incubation is by both sexes, 17
-26 days, usually 21 -22 days.
Young: Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. At age of 3 weeks, young may move about outside nest; attempt to fly at 4 weeks, can usually fly fairly well at 5 weeks.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects, crustaceans, earthworms. Feeds on aquatic insects and their larvae, as well as those living in damp soil. Eats many crayfish and earthworms. Also eats frogs, snails, small fish, leeches, spiders.
Behavior: Can locate prey by touch or by sight. Forages mostly by wading in shallow water, probing in soft mud for food. Also picks insects and other items from surface of water or soil, or from plants above water.

Video White-faced Ibis


copyright: Don DesJardin


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 increasing, 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 is extremely large, and hence does not 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.
The overall trend is increasing, although some populations may be stable (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (4300% increase over 40 years, equating to a 157% increase per decade
White-faced Ibis status Least Concern


Western United States to Argentina. Colonies local and intermittent within dash line. bMigration:
Present all year in southern California and coastal Texas and Louisiana; migratory elsewhere. Birds from all populations are likely to wander. Strays have reached Atlantic Coast often in recent decades.

Distribution map

White-faced Ibis distribution range map

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