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5

Australian White Ibis

(Threskiornis molucca)
Alternative names: "Black-necked Ibis", "Sickle-bird", formerly "Sacred Ibis"
Size: 65-75 cm
Weight: 1.7-2.5 kg (male), 1.4-1.9 kg (female)
SUBSECTIONS:     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Taxonomy, classification

See Australian White Ibis at Wikipedia .

Australian White Ibises have now been given species status and are not any longer considered to be a race of the Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopica).

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

A significant number of Australian White Ibises are permanent residents in the Narrabri region, in wet, moist or muddy areas.

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Close-up lateral portrait of an Australian White Ibis (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Gold Coast, QLD, June 2014]

Lateral view of an Australian White Ibis
[Botanic Garden, Sydney, NSW, 1997]

Dorsal view of an Australian White Ibis (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Goondiwindi, QLD, February 2013]

Small colony of Australian White Ibises on a bank of Narrabri Lake, together with two Silver Gulls
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2006]

Closer look at a flock of Australian White Ibises
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2007]

A whole array of aquatic birds hunting/foraging in O'Brien's Creek at Narrabri, NSW: three White-necked Herons, two Australian White Ibis in breeding plumage, two Great Egrets, one Purple Swamphen, one Dusky Moorhen and two Pacific Black Ducks
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2011]

Near-frontal view of an Australian White Ibis in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2011]

Lateral view of an Australian White Ibis in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2010]

Flock of Australian White Ibises in flight, with the characteristic black tips of the primaries clearly visible
[Near Narrabri, NSW, September 2008]

Lateral view of an immature Australian White Ibis
[Narrabri, NSW, January 2009]

Lateral view of an immature Australian White Ibis
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2012]

Dorsal view of an immature Australian White Ibis
[Urunga Heads, NSW, February 2012]

Immature Australian White Ibis waiting in a tree to be fed; when they are that young they are actually still white
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2009]

Here another dependent Australian White Ibis being fed
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Immature Australian White Ibis in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2012]

Twitcher's tip

Here an example why one should never take things for granted while bird-watching: In October 2011 three birds flew over our property. The photo below shows two of them - identification as Australian White Ibis is easy.

Australian White Ibis seen from underneath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

A second photo shows the remaining third bird and only closer inspection later, on the computer, showed that it had slightly different features...

The third bird turned out to be an "interloper"...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Dec Eggs: 2 - 5 Incubation period: 20 - 23 days Fledging age: ca. 49 days

The breeding season depends significantly on geographical latitude. In the tropical north Australian White Ibises breed Feb - May. Given the right conditions, Australian White Ibises can breed any time of the year. They breed in tightly packed colonies, together with other aquatic birds.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = Nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, lined with leaves Height above ground: 0 - 20 m

Australian White Ibises can nest in trees or just above water level, e.g. on lignum. They often nest in loose colonies, together with other aquatic species.

Australian White Ibises are the number 1 cause of bird strikes around airports, which is the reason why breeding colonies as shown below are often destroyed or at least reduced if found near major airports.

Small Australian White Ibis colony at the Gold Coast (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Carrara, Gold Coast, QLD, November 2014]

Australian White Ibises nesting at Narrabri Lake
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Australian White Ibises giving an example of colonial nesting
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2011]

Here a nest with three juvenile Australian White Ibises in it, ready to leave any time
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2010]

After seeing Australian White Ibises nesting in trees for many years, here the first nest in reeds - this indicates that the birds expect the lake not to dry up during the nesting season
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2012]

Australian White Ibis carrying nesting material
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2012]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 65 x 45 mm Colour: Creamy Shape: Elliptical

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Flock

Small group of Australian White Ibises seen in a riverine mudflat
[Brewarrina, NSW, September 2012]

Food, Diet

Adults: Small animals, frogs, leftovers Dependents: As adults Water intake: ?

Ibises feed on small animals that they pull out of mud or soft soil. Australian White Ibises are also known to scavenge; they are often seen around rubbish tips.

Additional information

There is a separate page describing a dependent Australian White Ibis being fed.

Australian White Ibis gobbling up what looks like a cicada (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Goondiwindi, QLD, February 2013]

Immature Australian White Ibis foraging through a mangrove mudflat
[Urunga Heads, NSW, February 2012]

Part of a large flock of Australian White Ibises scavenging at the local rubbish tip
[Narrabri, NSW, February 2012]

Sometimes Australian White Ibises can be seen foraging on grassland near water, such as e.g. freshwater lakes, in a manner that is more typical of Straw-necked Ibises
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, February 2013]

auwibis_20140820.mp3 (Darwin, NT) Contact call MD
auwibis_20141104.mp3 (NW NSW) Warning calls (in-flight) MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.