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Species Assessment for White-Faced Ibis (Plegadis Chihi) in Wyoming

Publication Information

Author(s):
Douglas A Keinath
Darby Dark-Smiley
Publication Date: 2003-12
Tags: WLCI Agency Report, WLCI, BLM

 

Plegadis chihi, the White-faced Ibis, is a member of the Ciconiiformes order.  They are large, 
long-legged birds, and they fly with a strong and steady wingbeat (Trost 1989).  They are 
members of the Threskiornithidae family and as such are wading birds.  They are gregarious, 
heronlike birds with long legs and long specialized bills to facilitate feeding in shallow waters 
(Field Guide to the Birds of North America 1999).  They often fly in flocks of 10-50 birds, either 
in a “V” formation or in long lines, and their only vocalization is a double grunt that sounds like 
“greh-greh” (Trost 1989). 
The White-faced Ibis is an attractive wading bird that is locally common in the western United 
States, where it breeds.  The White-faced Ibis has a long neck, long legs, and a long decurved bill, 
and inhabits freshwater wetlands and marshes.  Like, White Ibises (Eudocimus albus), they live 
and breed exclusively in wetlands, and as a result their habitat is highly dynamic (Frederick and 
Ogden 1997).  This bird has a metallic bronze or dark brown plumage, and in the breeding season, 
adults have distinctive white feathers along the edge of their faces.  The ibis nests in marshes in 
the western U.S. and winters in large flocks in Mexico, western Louisiana, and eastern Texas.  It is 
a resident in the southern part of its breeding range where it remains year-round.  This highly 
gregarious bird forages and travels in flocks, and nests in colonies.  This species eats primarily 
aquatic insects, crustaceans, and earthworms.  It feeds in marshes, as well as flooded hay fields 
and estuarine wetlands.  Breeding occurs in spring (from April – June) and eggs are incubated for 
a period of 20-26 days.  One clutch is laid per year, and usually contains three to four eggs.  The 
young are altricial and both sexes brood and feed the young.  Populations decreased in the late 
1800’s, but today the White-faced Ibis is considered locally common, and populations seem to be Dark-Smiley and Keinath increasing (Ryder and Manry 1994).  The conservation of wetland habitat is critical to the 
continued existence of the White-faced Ibis.   
The White-faced Ibis is fairly rare in Wyoming and is known from only eight breeding 
locations within the state (WYNDD Database).  Wyoming does not offer a great deal of suitable 
nesting habitat for the ibises, but three of the known breeding sites, (Bear River Marshes, Old 
Eden Reservoir, and Lake Caldwell) have had breeding colonies in most of the last 15-20 years 
(WYNDD Database).

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