Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)

Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)

The Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus), also known as the Oriental White Ibis, is a large wading bird belonging to the family Threskiornithidae. It is found primarily in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia, including countries such as India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The Black-headed Ibis inhabits a variety of wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, as well as agricultural fields and grasslands.

Physical Characteristics:

The Black-headed Ibis measures around 75-85 centimeters (29-33 inches) in length, with a wingspan of approximately 120-125 centimeters (47-49 inches). It has a predominantly white plumage, with a black head, neck, and a distinct tuft of feathers at the back of the head. The bird’s long, down-curved bill is black, and its legs and feet are dark gray. Both males and females share similar coloration and markings, with little sexual dimorphism.


The Black-headed Ibis primarily feeds on fish, amphibians, crustaceans, insects, and other aquatic invertebrates. It may also consume small mammals, birds, and reptiles. The bird forages by probing its long bill into the water or mud to capture prey, often wading through shallow water or walking slowly in search of food.

Reproduction and Lifecycle:

The breeding season for the Black-headed Ibis typically occurs between June and September, depending on the location. These birds are colonial nesters, often forming mixed-species colonies with other wading birds. They build platform nests made of sticks and other plant materials, usually placed in trees or bushes near water sources.

The female lays 2 to 4 pale blue-green eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around 23-25 days. After hatching, the chicks are fed and cared for by both parents until they fledge, or leave the nest, at about 6-7 weeks old. The young birds become fully independent within a few weeks of fledging.

Conservation Status:

The Black-headed Ibis is currently listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to a decline in its population. The species is facing several threats, including habitat loss and degradation due to wetland drainage, agricultural expansion, and urbanization, as well as pollution, hunting, and disturbance at nesting colonies. Conservation efforts focus on habitat preservation and restoration, as well as monitoring and managing populations to ensure their long-term survival.

Updated: 20 April 2023 — 14:46

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