The scarlet ibis, also called the red ibis, differs from other ibis by its intense orange-red coloration, hence the name scarlet.
Scarlet ibis are approximately 56-61cm long and can weigh up to 770 g. Males are relatively larger and weigh more than females. The adult wingspan can reach 54cm.
The entire body is red except for the elongated and curved beak, which can be red or black. The color of the plumage intensifies as the bird grows and ages. From an initial dark brown color it becomes bright red after several molts of feathers. The wing tips are black, but are only visible when flying.
Mainly mollusks, crustaceans and small fishes.
Like all ibis, the scarlet ibis is sociable and gregarious, hanging out with other types of waterfowl. They form large communities or flocks for foraging, breeding and nesting.
They are sedentary birds that only move during certain seasons, between the coast and other inland wetlands.
They may forage for food by digging in the mud or sandbanks near bodies of water; or they may use their beak as a spatula, moving it from side to side as they forage in the water.
Their breeding period usually coincides with the rainy season, although it also depends on the water level in their habitat.
Females can lay 3 to 5 eggs that take 19-23 days to incubate. The egg has a bottle green color with brown stripes. Both parents participate in the incubation and care process.
They build their nests in tall trees and, if possible, on islands to be less exposed to the danger of predator hunting.
Their natural habitat is compromised by floods caused by climate change and pollution of forests and grasslands, which also affect the reproduction of these animals.
They can be found in the tropical coastal areas of the northern part of South America and at the south of Central America.
Did you know?
Scarlet ibis is one of the two national bird of Trinidad and Tobago and is featured on their coat of arms.
The brown hue of the younger ones serves as camouflage for them.
Their characteristic red colour comes from the crustaceans they eat.