White-faced Ibis

Plegadis chihi

A dark wading bird with a long, down-curved bill, the White-faced Ibis is a western replacement for the Glossy Ibis. Similar in appearance and habits, the two species can be distinguished only by slight differences in coloring of the face and legs.

Interesting Information

  • White-faced ibises are declining throughout North America, where continuing threats include draining of wetlands and the widespread use of pesticides.

  • It is thought that the largest white-faced ibis nesting colony in the world can be found in the marshes around the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

  • A group of ibises has many collective nouns, including a "congregation", "stand", and "wedge" of ibises.


Adult Description

  • Long, down-curved bill.

  • Long dark legs.

  • Body all dark.

  • Length Range: 51-66 cm (20-26 in)

  • Weight: 726 g (25.6 oz)

  • Size: Large (16 - 32 in)

  • Color Primary: Brown, Sheen or Iridescence

  • Underparts: Red-brown

  • Upperparts: Red-brown with bronze and green gloss.

  • Back Pattern: Solid

  • Belly Pattern: Solid

  • Breast Pattern: Solid

Sex Differences

Sexes similar.


Similar to adult, but with dark banded bill and duller body.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Salt and fresh marshes in the west, and coastal marshes and brushy islands in Louisiana and Texas.


Feeds by probing mud with its long bill.


Diet consists of crayfish and other invertebrates, as well as frogs and fish. Coastal birds forage in salt marshes and include crabs in diet.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Genus: Plegadis
Species: Plegadis chihi

Similar Species

  • Herons have straight, not curved bills.

  • Glossy Ibis is extremely similar, but shows an incomplete white border around the face during breeding season that is broken at the back, has dark eyes and face, and black legs.

Bird Sound

Nasal moaning "urm." Croaks and rattles at breeding colony.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution