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Glossy Ibis
Plegadis falcinellus

Sometimes called the more cosmopolitan ibis, the Glossy Ibis, is the most widespread ibis species. It can be found in South, North and Central America, southern Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. In the US it primarily lives along the Atlantic coast but can also be found in a variety of inland wetlands. A nomadic wading bird, Glossy Ibis often roost communally at night in large mixed flocks, sometimes a good distance from their feeding wetlands.

Description: The Glossy Ibis’s head, neck, back and underparts are a rich chestnut-brown. The wings are black with a metallic green sheen, there is a white stripe from the base of the bill to above the eye and the bill, legs and feet are greenish-brown. In fall, a dark iris is a key identification marker.
Length: 23 inches
Wingspan: 36 inches
Weight: 1.2 lbs.

Voice: Usually silent but will emit a nasal croak or quacking sound.

Similar Species:

  • White Ibis - only juvenile White Ibis are typically seen in Tennesse and they are all gray or mottled gray and white with a pink bill
  • White-faced Ibis – Reddish legs and lore bordered with white, RED iris, white line around lore and eye.
  • Herons – have straight not curved bills.

Habitat: Wide variety of habitats, shallow lakes, swamps and marshes, ponds, rivers. Floodplains, wet meadows and irrigated agricultural fields.

Diet: Insects, worms, frogs, leeches, small mollusks, mussels, clams, rice and sorgham

Nesting and reproduction: There are no known records of this species nesting in Tennessee.

Status in Tennessee: The Glossy Ibis is an very uncommon migrant in Tennessee.

Dynamic map of Glossy Ibis eBird observations in Tennessee

Fun Facts:

  • Predators of the Glossy Ibis are Birds of Prey and alligators.
  • Glossy Ibis is capable of short swims but seldom does.

Obsolete English Names: Black Curlew

Best places to see in Tennessee: Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge, Eagle Bend Fish Hatchery, Rankin Bottoms

For more information:


Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.

Alsop, F.J, 2001, Birds of North America, DK Publishing, New York, NY

Davis, Jr., William E. and John Kricher. 2000. Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online

Peterson, R.T., 2002, Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, Houghton Mifflin, New York, New York