Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca)

An Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca) that I saw at Herdsman Lake yesterday.

A white ibis is an overall white bird with naked black head and neck. Yes, that means bald and black skin. It has pink stripes on the back of its head and bare red skin under its wings, both of which become more distinctive during the breeding season (September - November).

I might be wrong but the Australian white ibis is not a pest in the city of Perth (yet) - at least not in the ways I read about on other web pages. For example:

1. "Rubbish tips are dotted with ibis using their long, curved bills to rip open plastic bags. They prowl parks in search of unattended picnics. Small children are subjected to their stand-over tactics."
(see White Ibis on A Snail's Eye View)

2. "
...the birds have been known to run up to the little kids and snatch their sandwiches out of their hands. The birds turn over bins and spread rubbish, hang around cafes, and dominate some of the best nesting spots that might have been used by other species."
"... cause a nuisance for captive animals at wildlife parks. At feeding time the ibis run in and grab the food meant for other animals."
(see The Australian White Ibis - conservation takes a twist on Mark David's website)

3. Birds in Backyards call them birds behaving badly. The website says that white ibises can pose a threat to airplanes (e.g. causing damage to engines) and that the birds can produce enough droppings to make a city area unusable or an environment (e.g. in botanical gardens) unsuitable for growth of particular plants. I can only imagine the smell.

"Small children are subjected to their stand-over tactics. " and " up to the little kids and snatch their sandwiches out of their hands" - that is shocking!

According to "Guide to the wildlife of the Perth region", increasing numbers of white ibises pose a problem as they are displacing nesting cormorant colonies. So, I guess the Perth region is affected by expanding population of white ibises too. But still the situation seems under control in the Perth CBD.

Thankfully, we still don't have to share the city of Perth with Australian white ibises. Mass migration of white ibises into the Perth city centre is still unheard of. So, the city centre is not the best place to go to see the Australian white ibis : ) Herdsman Lake is a good place to go. I saw a colony, maybe 30 or 40 of them.

Shallow freshwater wetlands - natural habitat of Australian white ibises, where they feed on aquatic invertebrates such as crayfish. They also dig food from the soft soils in their habitats.

They are quite shy and flee when you get closer - an indication that it will still be a long time before they are ready to take over the city of Perth : )

Birds Behaving Badly - Australian White Ibis
Birds in Backyards - Australian White Ibis
Birds being a nuisance
The Australian White Ibis - conservation takes a twist
White Ibis on A Snail's Eye View
Prevention and control of damage by animals in WA - Australian white ibis
Guide to the wildlife of the Perth region (Simon Nevill Publications)


san said...

Nice Birds Chai.....Enjoy clicking !!
- Sanju

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Thanks Sanju! Maybe we should go birdwatching in the near future.

Chai : )

Takami said...

Hello Chai!

Those are interesting birds, thanks. They have black naked head, and pink naked skin bared under the wing. what is the meaning of the bared skin? Is it too hot for birds?

Your interest seems to expand to whole wild life now. How about wild flowers in the next?



Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Takami,

When you come back again, we can go look for wild flowers :D


Gerrit_H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
glhopman said...

Hi Chai,
I didn't realize that you had another blog. I really grew fond of this bird when I spent time in Australia. Unfortunately I got the impression that most people considered the bird ugly and a nuisance

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Gerrit,

This is the second blog that I am trying to revive : )

Fortunately the white ibises are just part of wildlife, not urban life, in Perth. Anyway, they are quite pretty.