Black-headed ibis

Black-headed ibis
Threskiornis melanocephalus
Photo by J.M. Garg (Wikipedia)

Common name:

Order Ciconiiformes
Family Threskiornithidae

This Asian species is found from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, through Bangladesh and Myanmar down to Indonesia, and along the Philippines and China all the way to Japan.

The black-headed ibis is 65-75 cm long and weigh up to 1,5 kg.


These birds are found in freshwater marshes, lakes, rivers, flooded grasslands, paddy fields, tidal creeks, mudflats, saltmarshes and coastal lagoons. They generally occur in lowland areas, but may occasionally be present up to an altitude of 950 m. They tend to be nomadic, in response to water levels and feeding conditions.

They mostly eat fishes, frogs and aquatic arthropods, generally feeding in shallow waters where they use their bill to probe soft muddy substrates.

Black-headed ibises generally breed in July-March. They breed in colonies, sometimes together with other ibises, herons and even cormorants. Each pair builds an unlined cup-shaped stick nest in a tree, usually over water, where the female lays 2-4 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 23-25 days and the chicks fledge 36-44 days after hatching. Each pair produces a single brood each season.

IUCN status – NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 20.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining at a slow to moderate rate, owing to hunting, egg collecting, disturbance at breeding colonies, drainage and agricultural conversion.

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