Monday, October 21, 2013

White-faced Ibis

To the uninitiated, the behavior of birders when pursuing a rare sighting is puzzling. The recent report of  two White-faced Ibis at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge near Seneca Falls, New York brought about a flurry of activity.  There is some discussion if one of the birds is a Glossy Ibis palling with its far western relative, or if the one bird is a juvenile White-faced Ibis  with its parent. No matter, really, if you just concentrate on their rarity and their beauty.  Take a look.

It has a brilliant red eye.  The bird's feathers glow in the sun with gold and purple and green. Oh my!  It has this long curved bill that is a specialized tool to probe in soft mud for food.  In the next photo I spotted evidence of what they are seeking.

 Can you see it?  Look more closely below.

Looks like a nightcrawler to me.  Given the intense feeding activity I saw, there must be a huge number of worms in the wetlands at Montezuma.

So there were two Ibis, and they stayed close together. I theorize it is an adult and its juvenile, but it would be hard to confirm.  The markings between Glossy and White-faced are compounded in the non-breeding season by differences between adult and juvenile. I did see this interaction which led me to speculate on the adult/juvenile relation.

The bird on the right with the red eye is likely an adult. Again, beautiful colors. Worth the trip to see them and watch their behaviors.

Paul Schmitt

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