Glossy Ibis seen in Kentucky

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Story and photograph by Horace Brown

The Glossy Ibis has been seen in Kentucky on the following dates from Franklin County to the western Kentucky lake area: March 20, April 21 and 30, May 1, 7 and 12, Aug. 25 and 30, Sept. 17-19, Oct. 23, Nov. 1 and 21 and Dec. 3 and 4. This species breeds along the Atlantic Coast from southern Maine down to southern North Carolina. Their winter range is from southern North Carolina along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast and about 3/4 of the way down the Texas Coast and throughout Florida.


This bird species is 23 inches long with a 36 inch wide wingspan and weighs 1.2 pounds. It is a very dark brown color with a curved beak and is not to be confused with the White-faced Ibis, which is identical in color except for a small line of feathers between its beak and head that is white and I have seen the White-faced Ibis locally, on Shelby Lake. The Glossy Ibis when it is inland eats crayfish, insects, and snakes including the poisonous Cottonmouth Water Moccasin. When on the coast, they add Fiddler Crabs to their diet. The voice of the Glossy Ibis when flushed is a nasal, moaning “urnn urnn urnn” or a rapid series of nasal quacks “waa waa waa waa,” however when feeding they give off a soft nasal “wehp-ehp.”

The Glossy Ibis nests in small to large colonies, typically with nests of herons and other ibises. It is located on or near the ground in marsh vegetation or can be as high as 10 feet above ground or water in trees and shrubs. The nest is a fairly large substantial structure of sticks and dried plant material with a well-cupped, well lined cavity. Both sexes build the nest in about two days with material being added to the nest until the young leave. The female lays three to four dull blue, unmarked, smooth shelled eggs that can be finely pitted with little or no gloss. Incubation is by both sexes but mostly by the female for 21 days with one brood being produced.

So good luck in trying to find the Glossy Ibis and again it is one of the 314 bird species that will disappear unless those of us who love bird watching can somehow help reverse the climate change trend in the great outdoors.

To read more columns about birds by Horace Brown, visit www.SentinelNews.com/recreation. Horace Brown is a civil/sanitary engineer, land surveyor and nature photographer and writer. To contact him or order a Brown’s 2017 hawks and owls calendar, E-mail whbrownpelpls@aol.com, call 502-682-7711 or write 527 Main St., Shelbyville 40065.