Thursday, March 10, 2011

White Ibis

The White Ibis is a common wading bird of the southeastern United States and coasts of Mexico and Central America.  They breed in wetlands (swamps and esturaries), often favoring freshwater. When they breed in salt water they may suffer salt stress and they require additional freshwater sources for their young to develop properly.  Nevertheless, White Ibis were abundant throughout the Florida Keys. 

White Ibis tend to be nomadic, thereby taking advantage of shallow feeding areas created by lack of rainfall. We also saw them foraging in fields. In Florida, as elsewhere, this ibis is "threatened by development, pollution, and water management." Their diet is varied, but concentrates on freshwater crayfish and estuarine crabs.  Just about any aquatic and even terrestrial prey item you can think of has been consumed by White Ibis--including worms, cockroaches, fish, lizards, snakes, and even young White Ibis.

This information (and quote) are taken from Heath et. al 2009 (in The Birds of North America Online), who, however, do not mention Wonder Bread as being consumed by White Ibis.  The ibis in this photo was being fed white bread by homeless-looking people in a city park in Key West. The ibis tossed the bread up with its bill and snapped the bread out of the air.

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