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Threskiornithidae – Ibises and Spoonbills

American White Ibis in the United States: Photo by Dorian Anderson

Welcome to the world of Threskiornithidae, a diverse family of birds found across the globe. With their distinctive long, slender bills and elegant plumage, these birds are commonly known as ibises and spoonbills. With species ranging from the iconic Sacred Ibis of Africa to the majestic Roseate Spoonbill of the Americas, this family offers a fascinating glimpse into the avian diversity of wetlands and marshes worldwide. Whether foraging in shallow waters or soaring gracefully overhead, threskiornithids captivate with their grace and beauty.

Overview of Threskiornithidae

As their distinctive bills suggest, ibises are adept at probing the mud for various prey, while spoonbills elegantly sweep their spatulate bills through the water to capture food. Despite these differences in feeding behavior, these birds share many biological traits. They hatch with similar undifferentiated bills, and in some species, chicks exhibit vestigial claws on their wing digits that soon vanish. Both ibises and spoonbills display graceful flight, often adorned with small black or red accents in their wings. Some ibises have adapted to a predominantly terrestrial lifestyle, nesting on cliffs instead of in trees or shrubs on protected islands.