Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Glossy ibis

Thai: นกช้อนหอยดำเหลือบ, nok chon hoi dam leuab

Binomial name: Plegadis falcinellus, Carolus Linnaeus, 1766

The glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is a wading bird in the ibis family Threskiornithidae.

Distribution

This is the most widespread ibis species, breeding in scattered sites in warm regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Atlantic and Caribbean regions of the Americas. It is thought to have originated in the Old World and spread naturally from Africa to northern South America in the 19th century, from where it spread to North America. This species is migratory; most European birds winter in Africa, and in North America birds from north of the Carolinas winter farther south. Birds from other populations may disperse widely outside the breeding season. While generally declining in Europe, it has recently established a breeding colony in southern Spain, and there appears to be a growing trend for the Spanish birds to winter in Britain and Ireland, with at least 22 sightings in 2010. In 2014, a pair attempted to breed in Lincolnshire, the first such attempt in Britain

Behaviour

Glossy ibises undertake dispersal movements after breeding and are very nomadic. The more northerly populations are fully migratory and travel on a broad front, for example across the Sahara Desert. Populations in temperate regions breed during the local spring, while tropical populations nest to coincide with the rainy season. Nesting is often in mixed-species colonies. When not nesting, flocks of over 100 individuals may occur on migration, and during the winter or dry seasons the species is usually found foraging in small flocks. Glossy ibises often roost communally at night in large flocks, with other species, occasionally in trees which can be some distance from wetland feeding areas.

Habitat

Glossy ibises feed in very shallow water and nest in freshwater or brackish wetlands with tall dense stands of emergent vegetation such as reeds, papyrus or rushes) and low trees or bushes. They show a preference for marshes at the margins of lakes and rivers but can also be found at lagoons, flood-plains, wet meadows, swamps, reservoirs, sewage ponds, paddies and irrigated farmland. It is less commonly found in coastal locations such as estuaries, deltas, salt marshes and coastal lagoons. Preferred roosting sites are normally in large trees which may be distant from the feeding areas.

The nests are usually a platform of twigs and vegetation positioned at least 1 m above water, sometimes up to 7 m in tall, dense stands of emergent vegetation, low trees or bushes.

Diet

The diet of the glossy ibis is variable according to the season and is very dependent on what is available. Prey includes adult and larval insects such as aquatic beetles, dragonflies, damselflies, grasshoppers, crickets, flies and caddisflies, Annelida including leeches, molluscs (e.g. snails and mussels), crustaceans (e.g. crabs and crayfish) and occasionally fish, amphibians, lizards, small snakes and nestling birds.

Description

This species is a mid-sized ibis. It is 48 – 66 cm long, averaging around 59.4 cm with an 80 – 105 cm wingspan. The culmen measures 9.7 to 14.4 cm in length, each wing measures 24.8 - 30.6 cm, the tail is 9 - 11.2 cm and the tarsus measures 6.8 - 11.3 cm. The body mass of this ibis can range from 485 to 970 g. Breeding adults have reddish-brown bodies and shiny bottle-green wings. Non-breeders and juveniles have duller bodies. This species has a brownish bill, dark facial skin bordered above and below in blue-gray (non-breeding) to cobalt blue (breeding), and red-brown legs. Unlike herons, ibises fly with necks outstretched, their flight being graceful and often in V formation.

Sounds made by this rather quiet ibis include a variety of croaks and grunts, including a hoarse grrrr made when breeding.

Conservation

The glossy ibis is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. Glossy ibises are threatened by wetland habitat degradation and loss through drainage, increased salinity, groundwater extraction and invasion by exotic plants.

The common name black curlew may be a reference to the glossy ibis and this name appears in Anglo-Saxon literature, indicating that it may have bred in early medieval England but Yalden and Albarella do not mention this species.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Pelecaniformes
Family
Threskiornithidae
Genus
Plegadis
Species
Plegadis falcinellus

Common names

  • Thai: นกช้อนหอยดำเหลือบ, nok chon hoi dam leuab

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
  • Bang Len District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Bang Pahan District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Phra Non-hunting Area
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bangkok Province
  • Borabue District, Maha Sarakham
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Chatturat District, Chaiyaphum
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Hat Yai District, Songkhla
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Kamphaeng Saen District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Kantharawichai District, Maha Sarakham
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khlong Luang District, Pathum Thani
  • Kumphawapi District, Udon Thani
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Buriram District, Buriram
  • Mueang Lamphun District, Lamphun
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phichit District, Phichit
  • Mueang Phitsanulok District, Phitsanulok
  • Mueang Suphanburi District, Suphan Buri
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pak Thale
  • Sanam Bin Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit

Range map of Plegadis falcinellus in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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