Tag Archives: African Sacred Ibis

African Sacred Ibis

Threskiornis aethiopicus

These easily recognisable, medium-sized birds (1-2kg) are extremely gregarious, flying and roosting in large flocks, and can be found near inland and coastal wetlands of all description, including sewerage works. Their natural diet consists of insects, worms, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, frogs, eggs, nestlings and carrion, and they are often to be found on the outskirts of towns scavenging at rubbish dumps and abattoirs. African Sacred Ibisses start breeding at the onset of the rainy season, in mixed-species colonies of up to 2000 pairs. Nests, in which 2 to 3 eggs are laid, consist of sticks and branches and are built in reeds or trees or on the ground on rocky islands.

Thanks to a wide distribution across most of Sub-Saharan Africa, and a large though probably declining population (200,000 to 450,000), the IUCN considers the African Sacred Ibis to be of Least Concern. The species is a common resident in most parts of South Africa, local numbers often swollen in summer by individuals migrating southwards from the equator, and have been introduced to Europe, the USA (Florida) and Taiwan. They are now extinct in Egypt, where they were once considered a sacred symbol of one of the Egyptian deities, and often mummified.