The ibises are a group of long-legged wading birds.
There are 28 species of ibis.
They are found in all warm regions except on South Pacific islands.
Ibises inhabit in shallow lagoons, lakes, bays, and marshes and use their slender, down-curved bills to feed on small fishes and soft mollusks.
They live up to a maximum of 25 years.
Ibises are medium-sized birds. They range in length from about 55 to 75 cm (22 to 30 inches).
They have a long, down-curved bills, longish neck and legs, and the males are generally larger than the females.
Almost all species have bare spots, usually on the face or throat. Bald ibis have, as their name implies, bare heads.
White or black, brown or gray, or even a bright orange-red, the coloration of ibis feathers is related to their feeding behavior and habitat. The scarlet ibis is one of the most striking of all the ibis species. It gets its pink, orange, and reddish color from the rich source of pigments in the algae and small crustaceans it eats.
They fly with neck and legs extended, alternately flapping and sailing.
Most ibis species live in large flocks, feeding, resting, and preening throughout the day.
Ibises usually feed as a group, probing mud for food items, usually crustaceans (such as crayfish), small fish, and soft mollusks (such as snails), with various species also consuming earthworms, insect larvae, leeches, and frogs.
Breeding season for ibis varies, depending on the species and its habitat. Ibises usually breed in vast colonies, building compact stick nests low in bushes or trees and laying 3 to 5 eggs, usually dull white or mottled with brown.
After hatching, the chicks are covered in gray, brown, or black down; bald ibis chicks have gray hair-like feathers on their head until they become fully mature at two years of age.
“Ibis” derives from the Latin and Ancient Greek word for this group of birds.
These birds have been a source of food and feathers, and have been hunted for sport.
Ibis have also helped humans all over the world. These birds rid gardens and crops of insects and other small animals that are harmful to plants.
Despite these values, loss of habitat, such as the decline of wetlands, and other threats have lead to six species being threatened, including one that is Endangered and three that are Critically Endangered. The critically endangered giant ibis, for example, has a population perhaps of less than 250 birds.
According to Josephus, Moses used the ibis to help him defeat the Ethiopians.
According to local legend in the Birecik area, the northern bald ibis was one of the first birds that Noah released from the Ark as a symbol of fertility, and a lingering religious sentiment in Turkey helped the colonies there to survive long after the demise of the species in Europe.
At the town of Hermopolis, ibises were reared specifically for sacrificial purposes and in the serapeum at aqqara, archaeologists found the mummies of one and a half million ibises and hundreds of thousands of falcons.
The African sacred ibis was an object of religious veneration in ancient Egypt, particularly associated with the deity Djehuty or otherwise commonly referred to in Greek as Thoth. He is responsible for writing, mathematics, measurement and time as well as the moon and magic. In artworks of the Late Period of Ancient Egypt, Thoth is popularly depicted as an ibis-headed man in the act of writing.
The mascot of the University of Miami is an American white ibis named Sebastian.