National Aquarium – Scarlet Ibis

Scarlet Ibis

Eudocimus ruber

National Aquarium – Scarlet Ibis National Aquarium – Scarlet Ibis National Aquarium – Scarlet Ibis National Aquarium – Scarlet Ibis

The scarlet ibis is hard to miss! Adults are bright red or scarlet, with somewhat lighter shading on the head, neck and underparts. The longest flight feathers are tipped in black.

The long legs of this wading bird are pink, and the toes are partially webbed. They use their long, curved, pinkish-brown bill to probe the mudflats, shallow water and grasses in search of food.

These highly social birds form large breeding colonies—often in mangrove swamps—and fly in a V-formation to their feeding grounds.

Did You Know?

The ibis gets its bright pink color from pigments in its food.


In the wild, ibis eat a varied diet, including crabs and other crustaceans, small fish, mollusks, frogs, worms and insects. At the Aquarium, the ibis's diet includes fish, crustaceans and insects, as well as a commercial pellet diet.


Adult scarlet ibis reach 22 to 30 inches in length from the tip of the bill to the end of the tail. The male is larger than the female and also has a longer, thicker bill.


The ibis's range extends from northern South America southward along the coast of Brazil. Scarlet ibis are occasional visitors to Florida.

Population Status

The scarlet ibis is listed in Appendix II (threatened in some parts of its range) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

It is highly protected in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, where it is the national bird.


Predators of the ibis include raccoons, snakes and large cats. Some humans kill these birds for their feathers.

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Ken Howell
Curator of Rain Forest Exhibits

As the curator of rain forest exhibits, Ken starts his day early with an exhibit walkthrough to make sure everything is running smoothly. Learn More

A Note From the Caretaker

The Aquarium's ibis can most often be seen walking along the vines that run across the exhibit, or in the coconut palm. We throw a variety of insects (crickets, mealworms and waxworms) into the forest two times a day to encourage natural foraging behavior. Our ibis especially like crickets, but are very shy and seldom come down from the trees to forage while the keepers are nearby, but visitors often see them wading in the stream.

National Aquarium – Wings in the Water

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