Habitat And Behavior, Historical References
Ibises are grouped together with large wading birds such as storks, herons, flamingos, and spoonbills, in the order Ciconiiformes. Ibises, like most birds in this order, have long legs and a long bill for feeding on fish and aquatic animals in shallow water. They also have broad wings, a short tail, and four long toes on each foot. The 26 species of ibis share the family Threskiornithidae with the spoonbills. Ibises have a large body, long legs, and a characteristic thin, downward-curving bill. The plumage of male and female ibises is alike, but the females are generally smaller. The heavy body of ibises means that they must flap their wings rapidly when in flight. They fly with their neck extended, often in a characteristic V-formation.
In North America, ibises are represented by the white ibis (Eudocimus albus), glossy ibis (Plegadis flacinellus), and white-faced ibis (P. chici). The wood ibis (Mycteria americana) is not actually an ibis, but a stork (Ciconidae). The scarlet ibis (Guara rubra) is the most spectacular ibis of South America and the Caribbean. The sacred ibis, the glossy ibis, and the hadada ibis are the principal species found in Africa.