Camera: Nikon D5000.
Photo taken at Alexandra Headland Park, Sunshine Coast, QLD.
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.
69 cm to 76 cm
The Australian White Ibis is common and widespread in northern and eastern Australia, and both its range and abundance in western Australia is expanding, despite its absence from Western Australia prior to the 1950s. The species is absent from Tasmania.
The Australian White Ibis 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.
The Australian White Ibis’ 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.
Some Australian White Ibis populations have learned to exploit artificial foods in urban environments and are becoming pests.