White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)
- Texas Status
- The white-faced ibis is a dark, chestnut colored-bird with green or purple on its head and upper parts, and a long, down-curved bill. It is very similar in appearance to the glossy ibis except during the breeding season when the white-faced ibis has a narrow border of white feathers all around its bare facial skin at the base of the bill. This ibis has reddish legs and feet and red bare skin on the face around the eyes.
- Life History
The white-faced ibis seems to prefer freshwater marshes, where it can find insects, newts, leeches, earthworms, snails and especially crayfish, frogs and fish. They roost on low platforms of dead reed stems or on mud banks.
During the nesting season, they are colonial and will construct a deep cup of dead reeds among beds of bulrushes, on floating mats of dead plants or they may nest in trees. The areas where these nests are built usually are where water is less than three feet deep. The nests are lined with grasses in preparation for the ibis nestlings. In Texas, between April and June, three to four greenish-blue eggs will hatch after an incubation period of approximately 21 to 22 days. The male and female both share in the parenting responsibilities of incubation and brooding of the nestlings. Nestlings initially are covered with a dull, blackish down and are noted to be uncommonly timid.
- The white-faced ibis frequents marshes, swamps, ponds and rivers.
- It nests in isolated colonies from Oregon to Kansas, but its center of greatest abundance seems to be in Utah, Texas and Louisiana. In Texas, they breed and winter along the Gulf Coast and may occur as migrants in the Panhandle and West Texas.
- White-faced ibises are declining throughout North America, where continuing threats include draining of wetlands and the widespread use of pesticides. They currently are listed as state threatened. The federal government is awaiting additional information on them before deciding if they should be given federal status as an endangered or threatened species.