Threskiornis aethiopicus, Photo: Michael Lahanas
Threskiornis aethiopicus (Latham, 1790)
Index ornithologicus 2 p.706
The African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) is a species of wading bird of the ibis family, Threskiornithidae, which breeds in sub-Saharan Africa, southeastern Iraq, and formerly in Egypt, where it was venerated and often mummified as a symbol of the god Thoth. It has also been introduced into France, Italy, Spain, and the United States (S. Florida).
The bird nests in tree colonies, often with other large wading birds such as herons. It builds a stick nest often in a baobab and lays 2-3 eggs.
This bird is usually silent, but occasionally makes some croaking noises.
The introduced and rapidly growing populations in southern Europe are seen as a potential problem, since these large predators can devastate breeding colonies of species such as terns. They also compete successfully for nest sites with Cattle and Little Egrets. The adaptable Ibises supplement their diet by feeding at rubbish tips, which helps them to survive the winter in these temperate regions.
The African Sacred Ibis is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
Venerated and often mummified by Ancient Egyptians as a symbol of the god Thoth, the Ibis was according to Herodotus and Pliny the Elder also invoked against incursions of serpents. It was also said that the flies that brought pestilence died immediately upon propitiatory sacrifices of this bird.
1. ^ BirdLife International (2008). Threskiornis aethiopicus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 05 November 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* Barlow, Wacher and Disley, Birds of The Gambia. ISBN 1-873403-32-1
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