Ibis are long-legged, heron-like birds that fly with their necks outstretched, unlike herons. Since ibis spend a great deal of time in water, they have partially webbed toes. These birds live in the tropical areas of the world, with the roseate spoonbill being the only species to live in North America.

Scarlet Ibis

Eudocimus ruber

Habitat: Mudflats, bays, marshy areas

Diet in the wild: Aquatic prey, i.e. crabs, mollusks, snails, aquatic insects. Red crustaceans give this bird its brilliant color

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Mackerel, mealworm, bird of prey diet, krill, flamingo fare

Size: 21-28 inches with a wingspan of 38 inches; Males weigh more than females and have a longer beak

Family: Polygamous

Status: Least Concern

Did you know? Scarlet ibis is the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago. The scarlet ibis is the only red shorebird.

This highly social bird lives in large colonies from southern United States to northern South America. The scarlet ibis either builds a flimsy, loose framework of sticks nest in a tree or sometimes uses an old heron nest. The young scarlet ibis are covered with black feathers. Within two years, the youngster is covered with those beautiful orange-red feathers associated with this ibis.

White Ibis

Eudocimus albus

Habitat: Coastal southern United States

Diet in the wild: Aquatic critters including insects, crustaceans, fish, small amphibians, reptiles and mammals

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Mackerel, mealworms, bird of prey diet, Flamingo Fare

Size: 21½-27½ inches with a wingspan of 38 inches; 2 pounds; Males larger than females

Family: Live in colonies of 500-15,000

Status: Least concern; population stable

Did you know? White ibis can fly 40 kilometers each day searching for food.

The white ibis’ habitat preference is coastal, ponds, lakes and wetlands. This bird needs large amounts of shallow water as well as plenty of trees for roosting and nesting. The ibis’ nest consists of a loose platform of sticks or sometimes it will nest in sawgrass or bulrushes.

This bird is sometimes called a brown curlew, Spanish curlew, stone curlew or white curlew.

Roseate Spoonbill

Ajaia ajaja

Habitat: Southern United States to South America and the Caribbean

Diet in the wild: Small fish, crustaceans, mollusks, worms, aquatic insects

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Mackerel, mealworm, bird of prey diet, krill, flamingo fare

Size: 30-34 inches long; 3½ pounds with a wingspan of 52 inches

Family: Live in small flocks

Status: Least concern

Did you know? The roseate spoonbill is the only spoonbill native to the western hemisphere and is the largest North American member of the ibis family. This bird is also called a pink curlew or rosy spoonbill.

This member of the ibis family prefers to live in swamp-like areas where it wades in shallow water to feed. The spoonbill can feed in salty, brackish or fresh water using its highly touch-sensitive beak to find prey in the water. It can swim, but rarely does. The roseate spoonbill nests along the Texas coast.

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