Bird Database

Glossy Ibis

(Plegadis falcinellis)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







Wetland loss, Human disturbance

Conservation Actions

Minimize human disturbnce, Protect coastal habitats

Glossy Ibis

(Plegadis falcinellis)

Like many of our long-legged wading birds, the Glossy Ibis is predominately a species of the New Hampshire coast. Although it can be seen here from April through early September, it has never bred in the state. Instead, the birds we see mostly come from nesting colonies in Maine (including Appledore Island in the Isles of Shoals). In spring New Hampshire also sees overshoots as birds are migrating north, and this is the time of year when ibis are mostly likely in the major river valleys.

The Glossy Ibis is relatively new to the Western Hemisphere, apparently having colonized northern South America from Africa in the early 1800s. From these original storm-blown vagrants, the species increased and spread north as far as the Gulf of Maine, and west along the Gulf of Mexico. In the New World it is almost entirely a coastal species, whereas it also occurs inland elsewhere in its extensive breeding range. It is one of a handful of bird species found on all continents except Antarctica.

Although related to herons and egrets, ibis are in a family all their own. The most obvious difference is in their bills, which are decurved instead of straight and pointed. The bill is sensitive to touch, and ibis spend a considerable amount of time using them to feel for food rather than hunting visually. They either probe in mud or sweep the bill back and forth in the water, hoping to contact a worm, clam, or insect larva, at which point they quickly snap it up. Sometimes ibis are seen foraging on dry land (e.g., grassy fields), in which cases they will add insects such as grasshoppers to their diet, as well as a few seeds.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Glossy Ibis
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count