Monday, July 8, 2013

Behind Blue Eyes

Sky blue eyes are the most striking feature of one of Florida's most common wading birds, the White Ibis.  Their beautiful blues boldly contrast with their pinkish faces and stark white feathers. 


Ironically, as a juvenile, a White Ibis is far from white. Juvenile White Ibis are mostly brown, and throughout its first year, the Ibis molts from brown to white.



In breeding plumage, the White Ibis's pale pink bill and legs become strikingly red.


Occasionally, I encounter an Ibis with a distended gular pouch, which is part of its courting display.


Like many other waders, Ibises are strongly associated with wetland and marsh habitats, however, they are also common residents of many  urban areas. There is a constant flow of Ibises that pass through the yards on my street each day. As they go, they probe through the lawns and retrieve bugs that are burrowed below the grass.


As part of its diverse diet, Ibises also enjoy delectables found above ground, such as frogs and lizards.



Ibises aren't afraid to get their white and tidy feathers dirty! Mud is a great surface to probe through as well.


Ibises use their elongated bills like a giant pair a tweezers to extract snails, crabs, and other slow moving creatures from the water. Usually with a quick head flip, an Ibis will toss its secured morsel into the air and down the gullet it goes!


If the Ibis has captured a meal that is too large to swallow whole, such as this crab, it will use the same sharp head movements to dismember the prey.


The bite sized pieces of crab...


...are good to the last bite!


Tammy Karr
http://iheartfloridabirds.blogspot.com/

13 comments:

  1. Tammy, what a delightful post about the White Ibis today, accompanied by so many perfect pictures. You not only have the magic touch when it comes to photography and being in the right place at the right time, but you are also very eloquent!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Karen!

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  2. Great post and super photos, Tammy! You are fortunate to have such interesting birds in your backyard!

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Hilke!

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  3. It's always a pleasure for me to read your delightful posts, Tammy! Excellent photographs accompanied by interesting information! I was not aware of the distended pouch during courtship. It's a treat to see these beautiful birds when I visit the west coast of Florida.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Julie! The distended pouch is interesting to see, but it usually makes me chuckle as it reminds me of a turkey's wattle.

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  4. Superb series Tammy of the Ibis in all its guises.

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  5. They do have pretty blue eyes! Wonderful photos, Tammy!

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  6. These are such beautiful birds. Thank you for sharing them with us.

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