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Sep 25 2011

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Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)


Scarlet Ibis

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Threskiornithidae | [latin] Eudocimus ruber | [authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [UK] Scarlet Ibis | [FR] Ibis rouge | [DE] Roter Sichler | [ES] Ibis rouge | [NL] Rode Ibis

Subspecies

Monotypic species

Genus

The White Ibis is, as both its common and scientific names imply, white with brilliant scarlet legs, facial skin, and bill. The Scarlet Ibis, as both its common and scientific names imply, is a brilliant scarlet red over its whole body, the only non-scarlet regions restricted to the distal third of the outer four primaries, the eye, and the bill, which are black. The White Ibis forms a superspecies with the Scarlet Ibis and there have been recent proposals to merge the two species based on ecological similarities and frequent hybridization where their ranges overlap in Venezuela. The White Ibis is found from the southeastern United States south to northern Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. The Scarlet Ibis is restricted to the northern third of South America where it occupies a number of aquatic habitats.

Physical charateristics

Eudocimus ruber is in the same family as spoonbills. Ibises have slightly webbed feet and a thin, down-curved bill. They fly with the bill forward and neck held straight. All ibises are long-legged and long-necked wading birds, but E. ruber can be characterized by its stunning red plumage and its glossy blue-black wing tips. This bright red color fades to pink in captive zoo birds, unless they are given a specific diet, which consists of high levels of protein and shrimp meat. Although the adults are brightly colored, the young are dull, with a greyish-brown color and white underbellies. Females and males are identical in coloration, but the male’s body size and bill length are much larger.

Listen to the sound of Scarlet Ibis

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wingspan min.: 52 cm wingspan max.: 56 cm
size min.: 55 cm size max.: 75 cm
incubation min.: 19 days incubation max.: 23 days
fledging min.: 35 days fledging max.: 23 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  

Range

South America : North

Habitat

Eudocimus ruber prefers swampy environments such as mud flats and shallow bays. It tends to reproduce and nest on dense brush-covered islands and mangroves near the mouths of rivers.

Reproduction

Eudocimus ruber has a colonial and social breeding system. Nests are generally built close to one another with more than one per tree. This is most likely done to reduce the risks of predation. Males use displays of preening, flights, head rubbing, and a rocking motion to attract mates. A female must be cautious when approaching a male, because he may actually attack her if she does not remain in his display area. Scarlet ibises are polygynous, the males often mate with more than one female.

Eudocimus ruber begins visiting its colonial nesting sites by mid-September, egg-laying takes place between early November through December. The first egg is laid 5 to 6 days after copulation and there are usually 3 to 5 eggs in each nest. Eggs are not glossy, but are smooth. Incubation lasts between 19 to 23 days. Chicks fledge after 35 days and are independent in 75 days. At birth the young are helpless and cannot even hold up their heads. Both adult birds share in the responsibilities of caring for and tending to the young. Both incubate, provide food and also guard against predators. To feed their chicks adults grab hold of the bill of the young bird, which causes it to raise its head so that the parent can regurgitate into the mouth. The chick’s feet develop quite fast; this allows the chicks to fledge as early as 2 weeks. By 40 days old, the young are able to fly well and by 75 days old, they are able to provide for themselves and can leave the colony.

Feeding habits

Eudocimus ruber forages for food by either probing in water with its long bill or pecking for prey items on soil surfaces. Their main diet consists of crustaceans and aquatic invertebrates. Crayfish and small crabs compose a bulk of the diet, along with aquatic insects. Also frogs, mollusks, small snakes and small fish.

Video Scarlet Ibis

copyright: youtube


Conservation

This species has a very 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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very 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.
Eudocimus ruber is found in northern South America, stretching from Venezuela to Eastern Brazil. It is nomadic, with seasonal shifts and migrations between different coastal locations and interior wetlands.
Scarlet Ibis status Least Concern

Migration

Coastal birds supposedly resident, but subject to extensive local dispersals. In very dry season in Surinam, moves inland following rivers. Now only non-breeding visitor to Trinidad. Migrates from parts of ilanos in Venezuela during dry season, possibly North to coast, flocks fly at great heights, usually in V-formation. Flies long distances, sometimes several kilometers, from nesting or roosting site to foraging areas. Vagrant to West Indies, sightings in South East USA might involve only escapes, though some have occurred after tropical storms.

Distribution map

Scarlet Ibis distribution range map

Literature

Title FORAGING ECOLOGY OF SEVEN SPECIES OF NEOTROPICAL IBISES (THRESKIORNITHIDAE) DURING THE DRY SEASON IN THE LLANOS OF VENEZUELA
Author(s): PETER C. FREDERICK’ AND KEITH L. BILDSTEIN
Abstract: sympatric species of ibises (Threskiomithidae) in ..[more]..
Source: Wilson Bull., 104(l), 1992, pp. 1-21

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Title BREEDING BIOLOGY OF THE SCARLET IBIS ON CAJUAL ISLAND, NORTHERN BRAZIL
Author(s): CARLOS MARTINEZ, ANTONIO AUGUSTO and FERREIRA RODRIGUES
Abstract: The reproductive biology of the Scarlet Ibis (Eudo..[more]..
Source: J. Field Ornithol., 70(4):558-566

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Title FOOD HABITS OF THE SCARLET AND WHITE IBIS IN THE ORINOCO PLAINS
Author(s): EDUARD AGUILERA,C RISTINAR AMO AND BENJAMIN BUSTO
Abstract: The Scarlet Ibis is neotropical and distributed fr..[more]..
Source: The Condor 95:739-741

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