Northern Bald Ibis Facts
- Above all, the quite distinctive Northern Bald Ibis ranks as one of the rarest and most endangered of all known migratory birds. This ranking occurs because experts know of only 500 wild individuals remaining.
- In addition, this animal remains the only species of ibis known to breed and nest along cliff ledges. All other known ibises have a distinctly different habit since they make their nests in trees.
- The species also once possessed a significantly greater natural range. While it once covered much of Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East, it now occupies only a fraction of that range.
- The IUCN lists the animal as Critically Endangered, due to its extremely limited population. Conservation efforts continue, yet its numbers continue to decline. The primary causes include habitat loss and illegal hunting.
Northern Bald Ibis Physical Description
While the distinctive Northern Bald Ibis has a moderate wingspan, sexual dimorphism remains present among the genders. Though males typically possess a larger wingspan of up to 53 in (135 cm), a female’s wingspan averages only 49 in (125 cm).
In addition, the males display a much larger beak, which actually serves a prominent purpose in sexual selection. Individuals also average approximately 2.9 lb (1.3 kg) in weight.
The plumage typically displays black, with violet and bronze-green iridescence. The legs grow shorter than many other ibises, yet powerful.
Its most noteworthy feature, however, remains the complete lack of feathers on the face and head.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Pelecaniformes
- Family: Threskiornithidae
- Genus: Geronticus
- Species: G. erimita
Northern Bald Ibis Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
As a result of its dwindling numbers, the Northern Bald Ibis now primarily appears in the wild in southern Morocco. One small population also still exists in Syria.
While other ibises breed and nest among trees, this species does so among cliff faces, specifically in arid regions. Yet this habitat requirement also increases its vulnerability.
Individuals feed only in dry, grazed areas, such as fallow fields and semi-arid steppes. These primarily consume invertebrates and small mammals.
The species also has a gregarious nature and lives in small groups or colonies. Pairing typically occurs between 3-5 years of age. These birds mate for life, and both genders share in raising the young.
Finally, the Northern Bald Ibis lives an average of 10-15 years in the wild.