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African Sacred Ibis | Threskiornis aethiopicus

The African Sacred Ibis is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Threskiornithidae bird family group which includes birds such as Ibises, Spoonbills.

The description for the African Sacred Ibis (Latin name Threskiornis aethiopicus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Threskiornis aethiopicus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 91 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 611. You will find a picture of the African Sacred Ibis on page 593.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as Sacred Ibis in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the African Sacred Ibis between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The African Sacred Ibis is known in Afrikaans as Skoorsteenve?r.

The African Sacred Ibis has a height of 89 cms and weighs around 1250 gms. The head is coloured black while the bill is coloured black. The Threskiornis aethiopicus has a black coloured throat, black legs and a white coloured back. The eyes are brown.

The male Threskiornis aethiopicus has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is black

Eyes are brown

Bill is black

Legs are black

Throat is black

Back is white

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The African Sacred Ibis strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

This bird is a well known scavenger and rarely kills its own prey.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The African Sacred Ibis uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The African Sacred Ibis is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 5 eggs and they are coloured white.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foligae.

The African Sacred Ibis is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

This bird is usually seen in small family groups or in large flocks

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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