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.
In the wild, ibis eat a varied diet, including crabs and other crustaceans, small fish, mollusks, frogs, worms, and insects.
Their bright red color comes from the pigments in their food.
At the Aquarium, the ibis’ diet includes fish, crustaceans, and insects, as well as a commercial pellet diet.
Adult scarlet ibis reach 22–30 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' range extends from northern South America southward along the coast of Brazil. Scarlet ibis are occasional visitors to Florida.
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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