White-faced Ibis

Plegadis chihi

  • Version: 2.0 — Published January 1, 1994
  • Ronald A. Ryder and David E. Manry

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Figure 1. Distribution of the White-faced Ibis.

Within these areas, breeding colonies are locally distributed and breeders often move nomadically in response to drought and rains. Wanderers have been recorded widely to the east and north of this breeding range. The breeding distribution in Mexico is poorly known.

Adult White-faced Ibis, nonbreeding plumage, November
Adult White-faced Ibis, Utah, April

Breeding plumage (definitive alternate). Brigham City, UT, April. ; photographer Arthur Morris

The White-faced Ibis is an attractive, long-legged wader with a long, decurved bill and metallic bronze plumage. In the breeding season, adults have distinctive white feathers along the edge of their bare facial skin. The species is locally common, nesting in several marshes in the western United States, especially in the Great Basin, and wintering in large flocks in Mexico, western Louisiana, and eastern Texas.

The species inhabits primarily freshwater wetlands, especially cattail (Typha spp.) and bulrush (Scirpus spp.) marshes, although it feeds in flooded hay meadows, agricultural fields, and estuarine wetlands.

No subspecies of this ibis are recognized, although the more cosmopolitan Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is considered by some to be conspecific, and the two species have produced hybrids in captivity. In Louisiana, Alabama, and possibly eastern Texas, however, the two forms nest in the same colonies, apparently without interbreeding.

Recommended Citation

Ryder, R. A. and D. E. Manry (1994). White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.130