Scarlet Ibis Scarlet Ibis
Scarlet Ibis

Scientific Classification

Common Name
scarlet ibis
Genus Species
Eudocimus (famous) ruber (red)

Fast Facts

These birds are scarlet except for their black wing tips. The bill is long, thin and curved downward and the neck is long and slender. Their legs are long with partially webbed feet. The juveniles are a dull, grayish brown.
75 cm (30 in.); wingspan 30 cm (1 ft)
1.35 kg (3 lbs.)
Crustaceans, mollusks, fish, insects, frogs, and small snakes
19 to 23 days;
Clutch Size
3 to 5 eggs
Fledging Duration
39 to 45 days
Sexual Maturity
4 to 5 years
Life Span
Up to 20 years
This species has a very large range in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
Mud flats, estuaries, shorelines, and shallow bays
The total population is very large with at least 10,000 mature individuals. The population is decreasing but is not severely fragmented .
IUCN: Least Concern
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

The scarlet Ibis has a curved, slender bill that they use to probe into shallow water, mud or grass when foraging.

As with flamingos, the brilliant red color of the scarlet ibis comes from carotene found in the crustaceans on which it feeds.

The scarlet ibis is a gregarious bird, living, traveling, and breeding in flocks. In flight, ibises form diagonal lines or V-formations. This formation decreases wind resistance for trailing birds. When the leader of the pack tires, it falls to the back of the formation and another ibis takes its place at the front.

These birds are rather quiet, only grunting or croaking on breeding grounds.

Both the male and female take turns in guarding the nest site until the chicks are large enough to defend themselves. In addition, both parents help feed the chicks.

Ibises are an ancient lineage with fossil records going back 60 million years.

The scarlet ibis is the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago.

Ecology and Conservation

Habitat destruction, poaching, and insecticides have caused the decline of several ibis species.

These birds are not only scavengers, but also feed on insects. This natural adaptability to different food sources ensures its success as a species.

Because of their role in helping to control crop pests, they are very valuable to farmers.

Occasionally, these birds are hunted for food. Their appealing taste is perhaps due to their preference for crabs and other crustaceans.


Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. Poole, Dorst: Blandford Press, 1981.

Perrins, Dr. Christopher. Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World. New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1979.

BirdLife International. 2016. Eudocimus ruber. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697415A93612751. Downloaded on 21 December 2018.