Scarlet Ibis

By Marla Lise

Scientific Name: Eudocimus ruber

The Scarlet Ibis is so-called because of its vibrant red plumage. This bird hails from Central and South America and is the national bird of Trinidad, appearing on their flag.

The Scarlet Ibis doesn’t start off red though. The eggs are a dull green and the chicks are actually born featherless and then turn a dark brown-grey color with tinges of white. As they get older and feed on crustaceans and mollusks their feathers actually take on the pigments of their food. These birds also feed on small frogs and reptiles and are usually found feeding along shallow coasts and mud flats.

Scarlet Ibis. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
Their long curved bill, which is black in color, helps them to get their food in these murky waters. Their feet are only slightly webbed and have a good grip to enable them to perch on trees.

Both the male and female take care of their chicks and help build the nest out of sticks. The young bird is able to leave the nest after about 3 weeks.

The Scarlet Ibis is still listed as an animal of ‘least concern’ under the IUCN red list, although surveys have shown that their numbers are indeed dwindling.


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