Overview

Comprehensive Description

Male generally larger. The Australian White Ibis is identified by its almost entirely white body plumage and black head and neck. The head is featherless and its black bill is long and down-curved. During the breeding season the small patch of skin on the under-surface of the wing changes from dull pink to dark scarlet. Adult birds have a tuft of cream plumes on the base of the neck. Females differ from males by being slightly smaller, with shorter bills. Young birds are similar to adults, but have the neck covered with black feathers. In flight, flocks of Australian White Ibis form distinctive V-shaped flight patterns. Another common name for this bird is Sacred Ibis, but this more appropriately refers to a closely related African species.

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Distribution

Subspecies and Distribution:


    *molucca (Cuvier, 1829) - Australia through New Guinea to S Moluccas and E Lesser Sundas. *pygmaeus Mayr, 1931 - Rennell I and Bellona I (Solomon Is).


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Physical Description

Size

69-79 cm. 1440-2500 g

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Diagnostic Description

Male generally larger. The Australian White Ibis is identified by its almost entirely white body plumage and black head and neck. The head is featherless and its black bill is long and down-curved. During the breeding season the small patch of skin on the under-surface of the wing changes from dull pink to dark scarlet. Adult birds have a tuft of cream plumes on the base of the neck. Females differ from males by being slightly smaller, with shorter bills. Young birds are similar to adults, but have the neck covered with black feathers. In flight, flocks of Australian White Ibis form distinctive V-shaped flight patterns. Another common name for this bird is Sacred Ibis, but this more appropriately refers to a closely related African species.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Can be observed in all but the driest habitats. Preferred habitats include swamps, lagoons, floodplains and grasslands, but it has also become a successful inhabitant of urban parks and gardens.

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Trophic Strategy

Range of food includes both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and human scraps. The most favoured foods are crayfish and mussels, which the bird obtains by digging with its long bill. Mussels are opened by hammering them on a hard surface to reveal the soft body inside.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 33.2 years (captivity) Observations: One specimen lived for 33.2 years in captivity (Brouwer et al. 1994).
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Reproduction

Secures a pairing territory on a branch of a tall tree in order to attract a female. The courtship ceremony involves the male putting on a noisy display, as well as showing aggression towards other males. When a female arrives, the male attracts her by bowing from his branch. He then offers the female a twig, forging a bond when she grasps it and they begin to preen one another. Once the pair bond is cemented, the birds fly off to build a nest at another location. Australian White Ibis nest in large colonies, often with the Straw-necked Ibis, T. spinicollis. Young are born naked and helpless. One or two broods may be reared in a year.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Threskiornis molucca

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
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). The population trend appears to be fluctuating, 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 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.
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Not Threatened.

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Population

Population Trend
Stable
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