By Dianne Taggart

Glossy Ibis


Glossy Ibis on LI are not that common, although we do see them during migration and some stay with us all summer. They are not the only Ibis we see but they are more common here than the White-faced Ibis or the White Ibis. They are fun birds that we see mostly in freshwater or brackish wetlands, but they can be found at compost heaps as well. (Yes, compost heaps!!)


Glossy Ibis have reddish colored feathers on their bodies with greenish wings. Their colors seem to change though, since their feathers are reflective and appear to change with the lighting. Their bill is dark in color (brownish) with dark skin around the face. They are distinctive in flight; long neck stretched out with the curved bill (sickle-shaped) prominent and usually in a straight line of birds if there is more than one. The Glossy Ibis is capable of short swims, but seldom does so. They don’t sing and are usually silent, but they are capable of making croaking calls.


Glossy Ibis breed along the Atlantic Coast and they are resident in the southeastern U.S. Ibis like nesting in marshy vegetation usually 1-3 feet above the water. They nest in large colonies and usually with other species of wading birds. They lay 1-5 eggs and incubation is about 21 days with both parents taking part. Both parents feed young by regurgitation. Juveniles leave the nest in 8 days but don’t fly for 28 days and will often hang around with the parents for a couple of weeks after learning flight.


Diet is made up of crayfish, frogs, fish, other invertebrates and plants. They forage while wading and walking, probing with that long, curved bill and feeling for food items deep in the mud. Since they are gregarious birds they can often be found in large groups in both nesting and non-nesting seasons.


It is believed that the Glossy Ibis originally came from Europe or Africa and migrated to the Caribbean first and then the Atlantic Coast of North America; populations then spread north & west and in some cases displacing the White Ibis. They are also found in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. There is a slow decline in population numbers since the 1970s due mostly to a decline in summer nesting areas (wetlands).

A group of Ibis are also called a “congregation”, “stand”, and “wedge” of ibis. The oldest recorded Glossy Ibis was at least 21 years old.


Steven Williams

Jason Frank

Brian Doherty

Charlie Spinnato

More images on pages 2, 3 and 4!