Ibis (Waldrapp)

Scientific Name: Geronticus eremita
Irish Name: Íbis mhaol tuaisceartach

The waldrapp ibis is a migratory bird with glossy black plumage, an unfeathered red face and head, and a long, curved red bill.

The waldrapp ibis is native to coastal areas and cliffs of Morocco but their migration path sends them to the Middle East to countries like Jordan and Syria.

Ibis (Waldrapp)

The waldrapp ibis is a migratory bird with glossy black plumage, an unfeathered red face and head, and a long, curved red bill.

The waldrapp ibis is native to coastal areas and cliffs of Morocco but their migration path sends them to the Middle East to countries like Jordan and Syria.

General Information

The waldrapp ibis is classified as critically endangered but the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and it is thought that there is only about 500 birds left in the wild and 1,000 in zoos.

Dublin Zoo is part of a breeding programme for this species and supports the Northern Bald Ibis Conservation Project in Morocco, in the hope of releasing this species back into the wild.

Physical Description

A glossy black bird, about 75cm tall, with an unfeathered red head and a long curved red bill.

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

Native to Morocco where they live in cliffs, but these bird migrate of overwinter in other countries like Jordan and Syria

How long do they live?

Live ~20 years wild, and up to 24 years in human care

What do they eat?

Ominovorous birds, they eat insects, small reptiles, worms, small mammals and birds, berries, shoots, duckweed and aquatic plant rhizomes

Closest Related Species/Sister Species

The closest relative species, and only other member of the Waldrapp Ibis's genus, is the southern bald ibis (Geronticus calvus) which lives in South Africa. These two species (unlike other ibis) have unfeathered heads, breed in cliffs instead of trees, and prefer arid habitats to wetlands. Their genus name Geronticus means "old man" in greek and refers to their wrinkled bald heads.

Group Name

Flock

Zoo location

East Side (behind the Chilean flamingos)

Animal Class

Aves

Animal Order

Pelecaniformes

Fun Facts

Wading

Despite usually living near running water, and unlike most members of the Ibis family, Waldrapp Ibis doesn't wade. (Wiki/zoo observation)

Old Man

The genus name Geronticus means "old man" in greek and refers to their wrinkled bald heads, and eremita is a Latin reference to them being "desert hermits". Waldrapp is German for "forest crow". (wiki, several sources)

Fossils

Thanks to the fossil record, we know that he Waldrapp Ibis (and/or its close ancestor) has been around for at least 1.8 million years!

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Family Life

Breeds colonially on coastal or mountain cliff edges, building a nest out of sticks and lining it with grass, and laying 2-4 rough-surfaced eggs, which are blue-white with brown spots when they are laid, but become brown during incubation.

Baby Name

Chick

Gestation Period

25 days of incubation, both parents sit on the eggs

Number of young at birth

2 - 4 eggs in a clutch

Weight at Birth

35 - 45g

Age at Maturity

3 - 5 years

Size Male Adult

~70cm / ~1kg

Size Female Adult

~80cm / ~1.3kg

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Conservation

IUCN status

Endangered

Current population estimate

~147 breeding pairs in the wild, and >1000 in captivity

Threats

Habitat disturbance and dam construction, predation from ravens and vultures, and pesticides (DDT in the 1950s killed most of them)

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Dublin Zoo's Waldrapp Ibis are part of a European Endangered species Programme for breeding this species.

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FAQs

  • What do ibis eat?

    Ominovorous birds, they eat insects, small reptiles, worms, small mammals and birds, berries, shoots, duckweed and aquatic plant rhizomes.

  • What does ibis mean?

    An ibis is a long-legged wading bird from the taxanomic family Threskiornithidae, these types of birds have been called ibis in Latin and Greek for hundreds of years, and they derived the word from the Egyptian name for these birds.

  • What is the plural of ibis?

    The plural of ibis is ibis, though in older or more classical texts and references you might see “ibides” or “ibes”.

  • Where do ibis live?

    Different species of ibis live all over the world, and there even used to be flightless ibis in Hawaii and Jamaica!

  • What is a group of ibis called?

    Usually a group of ibis are called a flock.

  • Are ibis birds native to Australia?

    The Australian White Ibis is native to Australia and is protected by law there.

  • Can ibis fly?

    All living ibis species can fly, although there are known to be 2 extinct flightless ibis species that used to live in Hawaii and Jamaica.

  • Is an ibis a crane?

    Cranes and Ibis are two very separate lineages of birds, and though they are both long-legged wading birds, their evolutionary paths are quite different. Cranes are from an ancient order of birds which only has 5-10 species still living, while ibis are from a more recently evolved group, closely related to pelicans and herons.

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