I saw this wing tagged Ibis in Tempe Reserve a few weeks ago.  He is a juvenile & also has a band on his leg.

I saw this wing tagged Ibis in Tempe Reserve a few weeks ago. He is a juvenile & also has a metal band above his right knee.

The Australian White Ibis (Threskionis molucca), is a native Australian water bird.  Because of repeated periods of drought, they have migrated from inland wetlands, lakes & rivers to Sydney & the east coast of Australia.  They have adapted well to urban living.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service are asking for the community’s help in an Australia-wide White Ibis Survey.   They want to know where the White Ibis live & also census the national White Ibis population.  This information will assist current research into habitat use & movements.

The next survey is on Sunday 20th October 2013.  If you see any White Ibis on this day, anywhere in NSW or Australia, please let the National Parks and Wildlife Service know by uploading the following information to their website.

They want to know –

  • how many White Ibis you have seen,
  • the location & time of day &,
  • whether any of the birds have wing tags or leg bands.  Please provide as many details as possible about the colour & location of the bands on the bird’s legs (above the knee or around the ankle) and/or colour & number of the tags on the bird’s wing.

You can upload your information to this webpage – http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/surveys/WhiteIbisSightingForm.htm

Some quick facts about White Ibis gathered from Environment NSW –

  • They are native to Australia, preferring to live in wetlands.
  • They are protected under the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974.
  • The White Ibis are easily identified because they have a white body, black featherless head & neck & red skin under their wings.  This turns scarlet during the breeding season. Adult birds have a plume of longer feathers at the front of the base of their neck.  Juvenile Ibis have feathers over their neck & head.
  • The males weigh from 1.7kg – 2.5kg [half the weight of an adult cat]. The females weigh from 1.4kg – 1.9kg.
  • Their beaks are 16.7cm long for both males & females.
  • Ibis travel vast distances in search of water & food sources.  They are a constantly moving population, found up the east coast of Australia, in the Northern Territory & in a small area in Western Australia.  They have been spotted as far away as Papua New Guinea, the Moluccas Islands, the Solomon Islands & occasionally in New Zealand.  A Victorian Ibis that was banded was found in Papua New Guinea.
  • The Macquarie Marshes is a 20-hectare area that is regarded as internationally significant & was listed under the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands in 1986.  Changes to this wetland & fires destroying nest trees, has resulted in plummeting numbers of Ibis.  In 2004 there were less than 20 Ibis at these wetlands & less than 10 in 2005.
  • “These observations indicate a wetland in crisis & a need to nurture breeding populations of waterbirds, including those currently roosting in urban areas.” 
  • No one knows whether the Ibis will return inland once their traditional habitats return to normal.
  • Ibis love to eat small crabs, insects, crayfish, mussels, snails & worms.  They also have taken to ‘easy food’ garnered from bins & landfill.  It’s this scavenging nature that has people disliking Ibis & calling them ‘Bin Birds.’   In reality, this diet is not good for them & the aim is to prevent them eating from these sources & go where the diet is natural & healthy for them.
  • Ibis are great for the environment & liked by farmers because they help by eating locusts & other insects that damage crops.
  • Ibis aerate soil when searching for food.  They provide a great free service aerating the soil of playing fields, golf courses & parks.
  • When searching for a mate, the male finds a nice branch in a tall tree.  He puts on a noisy display to impress the female & then offers her a twig.  If she accepts his gift, they preen each other & a bond is formed.  They then find another tree suitable to set up home in another location.
  • There are two other native Australian Ibis.  They are the Straw-necked Ibis & the Glossy Ibis.
Five Ibis, one Royal Spoonbill & one Grey-faced Heron taking a midday break on what is left of Fatima Island, opposite Kendrick Park in Tempe.  Ibis get on with all birds as far as I can tell & I've even seen one standing quietly beside a blue tongue lizard.

Five White Ibis, one Royal Spoonbill & one Grey-faced Heron taking a midday break on what is left of Fatima Island, opposite Kendrick Park in Tempe.  Ibis get on with all birds as far as I can tell & I’ve even seen one standing quietly beside a sunning blue tongue lizard.

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