The family Threskiornithidae includes 34 species of large wading birds. The family has been traditionally classified into two subfamilies, the ibises and the spoonbills; however recent genetic studies are casting doubt on the arrangement, and revealing the spoonbills to be nested within the old world ibises, and the new world ibises as an early offshoot.
The family Threskiornithidae was formerly known as Plataleidae. The spoonbills and ibises were once thought to be related to other groups of long-legged wading birds in the order Ciconiiformes. A recent study found that they are members of the order Pelecaniformes. In response to these findings, the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) recently reclassified Threskiornithidae and their sister taxa Ardeidae under the order Pelecaniformes instead of the previous order of Ciconiiformes. Whether the two subfamilies are reciprocally monophyletic is an open question. The South American Checklist Committee's entry for the Threskiornithidae includes the following comment "Two subfamilies are traditionally (e.g., Matheu & del Hoyo 1992) recognized: Threskiornithinae for ibises and Plataleinae for spoonbills; because the main distinction has to do with bill shape, additional information, especially genetic, is required to recognize a major, deep split in the family."
A study of mitochondrial DNA of the spoonbills plus the sacred and scarlet ibises found that the spoonbills formed a clade with old world genus Threskiornis, with Nipponia nippon and Eudocimus as progressively earlier offshoots and more distant relatives, and hence casts doubt on the arrangement of the family into ibis and spoonbill subfamilies. Subsequent studies have supported these findings, the spoonbills forming a monophyletic clade within the "widespread" clade of ibises, including Plegadis and Threskiornis, while the "new World Endemic" clade is formed by the genera restricted to the Americas such as Eudocimus and Theristicus.
Members of the family have long, broad wings with 11 primary feathers and about 20 secondaries. They are strong fliers and, rather surprisingly, given their size and weight, very capable soarers. The body tends to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, decurved in the case of the ibises, straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. They are large birds, but mid-sized by the standards of their order, ranging from the dwarf olive ibis (Bostrychia bocagei), at 45 cm (18 in) and 450 g (0.99 lb), to the giant ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea), at 100 cm (39 in) and 4.2 kg (9.3 lb).
All ibises are diurnal; spending the day feeding on a wide range of invertebrates and small vertebrates: ibises by probing in soft earth or mud, spoonbills by swinging the bill from side to side in shallow water. At night, they roost in trees near water. They are gregarious, feeding, roosting, and flying together, often in formation.
Nesting is colonial in ibises, more often in small groups or singly in spoonbills, nearly always in trees overhanging water, but sometimes on islands or small islands in swamps. Generally, the female builds a large structure out of reeds and sticks brought by the male. Typical clutch size is two to five; hatching is asynchronic. Both sexes incubate in shifts, and after hatching feed the young by partial regurgitation. Two or three weeks after hatching, the young no longer need to be brooded continuously and may leave the nest, often forming creches but returning to be fed by the parents.
The African spoonbill (Platalea alba) is a long-legged wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. The species is widespread across Africa and Madagascar, including Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.Bare-faced ibis
The bare-faced ibis (Phimosus infuscatus), also known as the whispering ibis, is a species of bird in the family Threskiornithidae, in the monotypic genus Phimosus.It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Its natural habitat is swamps.Black-faced ibis
The black-faced ibis (Theristicus melanopis) is a species of bird in the family Threskiornithidae. It is found in grassland and fields in southern and western South America. It has been included as a subspecies of the similar buff-necked ibis, but today all major authorities accept the split. The black-faced ibis also includes the Andean ibis (T. branickii) as a subspecies. Some taxonomic authorities (including the American Ornithological Society) still do so.Crested ibis
The crested ibis (Nipponia nippon), also known as the Japanese crested ibis or Toki (トキ), variously written in kanji as 朱鷺, 鴇, 鵇, 鴾, or 桃花鳥, and written in hanzi as 朱䴉 or 朱鷺, is a large (up to 78.5 cm (30.9 in) long), white-plumaged ibis of pine forests. Its head is partially bare, showing red skin, and it has a dense crest of white plumes on the nape. This species is the only member of the genus Nipponia.
They make their nests at the tops of trees on hills usually overlooking their habitat. Crested ibises usually eat frogs, small fish, and small animals.
At one time, the crested ibis was widespread in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Russia. It has now disappeared from most of its former range. The last wild crested ibis in Japan died in October 2003, with the remaining wild population found only in Shaanxi province of China until reintroduction of captive bred birds back into Japan in 2008. They were previously thought to be extinct in China too, until 1981 when only seven ibises were seen in Shaanxi, China.
Extensive captive breeding programs have been developed by Japan and China to conserve the species. They were put on the State Protection List in China. Also, for the past 23 years, China has bred and protected the species. In 2002, there were a total of 130 colonies in China. Northwest Shaanxi province's research center has a history of 26 crested ibis fledglings including artificial, and natural incubation. On July 31, 2002, five out of seven crested ibis chicks hatched at an incubation center in northwest Shaanxi province. This was one of the latest records and highest record ever recorded of chicks that hatched. The parents of the chicks were chosen from 60 ibis pairs raised at that research center.
Due to ongoing habitat loss, small population size, limited range, winter starvation and persecution in last century brought this endangered species to the brink of extinction. The crested ibis has been listed in Appendix I of the conservation treaty CITES.
The London Zoo had crested ibises from 1872 until 1873. Outside China only Japan and South Korea keep this species.On September 25, 2008, the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Preservation Center released 10 of the birds as part of its crested ibis restoration program, which aims to introduce 60 ibises into the wild by 2015. This marks the first time the rare bird has returned to the Japanese wild since 1981.On April 23, 2012, it was confirmed that three crested ibis chicks had hatched on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture, the first time chicks had hatched in the wild in Japan in 36 years. One of the baby chicks briefly left its nest on 25 May.In Korean peninsula, the bird has not been visible on the Korean Peninsula since it was last seen in 1979 near the Demilitarized Zone(DMZ). South Korea made efforts to restore the species after former Chinese President Hu Jintao delivered a pair of the birds as a present during a South Korea-China summit in 2008; and president Xi Jinping presented one pair more in 2013. The restoration center in Changnyeong has bred more than 360 crested ibises so far. The South Korean government has released dozens of crested ibises into the wild to promote its efforts to preserve biological diversity.Eurasian spoonbill
The Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), or common spoonbill, is a wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. The genus name Platalea is from Latin and means "broad", referring to the distinctive shape of the bill, and leucorodia is from Ancient Greek leukerodios "spoonbill", itself derived from leukos, "white" and erodios "heron". In England it was traditionally known as the "shovelard", a name later used for the Northern Shoveller.Geronticus
The small bird genus Geronticus belongs to the ibis subfamily (Threskiornithinae). Its name is derived from the Greek gérontos (γέρωντος, "old man") in reference to the bald head of these dark-plumaged birds; in English they are called bald ibises.Giant ibis
The giant ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea), the only species in the monotypic genus Thaumatibis, is a wading bird of the ibis family, Threskiornithidae. It is confined to northern Cambodia, with a few birds surviving in extreme southern Laos and a recent sighting in Yok Đôn National Park, Vietnam.Glossy ibis
The glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is a wading bird in the ibis family Threskiornithidae. The scientific name derives from Ancient Greek plegados and Latin, falcis, both meaning "sickle" and referring to the distinctive shape of the bill.Green ibis
The green ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis), also known as the Cayenne ibis, is a wading bird in the ibis family Threskiornithidae. It is the only member of the genus Mesembrinibis.
This is a resident breeder from Honduras through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and western Panama, and South America to northern Argentina. It undertakes some local seasonal movements in the dry season.Ibis
The ibises () (collective plural ibis; classical plurals ibides and ibes) are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae, that inhabit wetlands, forests and plains. "Ibis" derives from the Latin and Ancient Greek word for this group of birds. It also occurs in the scientific name of the cattle egret, (Bubulcus ibis), mistakenly identified in 1757 as being the sacred ibis.Madagascan ibis
The Madagascan ibis (Lophotibis cristata), also known as the Madagascar crested ibis, white-winged ibis or crested wood ibis, is a medium-sized (approximately 50 cm long), brown-plumaged ibis. It has bare red orbital skin, yellow bill, red legs, white wings and its head is partially bare with a dense crest of green or gloss blue and white plumes on the nape. The Madagascan ibis is the only member of the genus Lophotibis.Pseudibis
The bird genus Pseudibis consists of two South-East Asian species in the ibis subfamily, Threskiornithinae. The giant ibis is also sometimes placed in this genus.
The white-shouldered ibis is critically endangered.Sharp-tailed ibis
The sharp-tailed ibis (Cercibis oxycerca) is a species of ibis native to open wet savannas in parts of northern South America.Southern bald ibis
The southern bald ibis (Geronticus calvus) is a large bird found in open grassland or semi-desert in the mountains of southern Africa. Taxonomically, it is most closely related to its counterpart in the northern regions of Africa, the waldrapp (Geronticus eremita). As a species, it has a very restricted homerange, limited to the southern tips of South Africa in highland and mountainous regions.This large, glossy, blue-black ibis has an unfeathered red face and head, and a long, decurved red bill. It breeds colonially on and amongst rocks and on cliffs, laying two or three eggs which are incubated for 21 days before hatching. It is a large bird that feeds and roosts in substantial groups. It feeds on insects, small reptiles, rodents and small birds. They do little vocalizing other than occasional gobbling sounds.The ibises are gregarious long-legged wading birds with long down-curved bills; they form one subfamily of the Threskiornithidae, the other subfamily being the spoonbills. The two Geronticus species differ from other ibises in that they have unfeathered faces and heads, breed on cliffs rather than in trees, and prefer arid habitats to the wetlands used by their relatives. The species is currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, however, it is in no immediate danger of extinction.Spoonbill
Spoonbills are a genus, Platalea, of large, long-legged wading birds. The spoonbills have a global distribution, being found on every continent except Antarctica. The genus name Platalea derives from Latin and means "broad", referring to the distinctive shape of the bill. Six species are recognised, which although usually placed in a single genus have sometimes been split into three genera.
All spoonbills have large, flat, spatulate bills and feed by wading through shallow water, sweeping the partly opened bill from side to side. The moment any small aquatic creature touches the inside of the bill—an insect, crustacean, or tiny fish—it is snapped shut. Spoonbills generally prefer fresh water to salt but are found in both environments. They need to feed many hours each day.Straw-necked ibis
The straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) is a bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. It can be found throughout Australia, New Guinea, and parts of Indonesia. Adults have distinctive straw-like feathers on their neck.Theristicus
Theristicus is a genus of birds in the family Threskiornithidae. They are found in open, grassy habitats in South America. All have a long, decurved dark bill, relatively short reddish legs that do not extend beyond the tail in flight (unlike e.g. Eudocimus and Plegadis), and at least the back is grey.White-faced ibis
The white-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi) is a wading bird in the ibis family, Threskiornithidae.
This species breeds colonially in marshes, usually nesting in bushes or low trees. Its breeding range extends from the western United States south through Mexico, as well as from southeastern Brazil and southeastern Bolivia south to central Argentina, and along the coast of central Chile. Its winter range extends from southern California and Louisiana south to include the rest of its breeding range.