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The American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) is a species of wading bird in the ibis family Threskiornithidae. It occurs from the mid-Atlantic and Gulf coast of the United States south through most of the New World tropics. The American White Ibis is a middle-sized bird with an overall white plumage, bright red-orange down-curved bill and long legs, and black wing tips that are usually only visible in flight. Being sexually dimorphic, males are larger than females. American White Ibises interbreed with Scarlet Ibises where their ranges overlap, and they have been classified as a single species. The breeding range of the American White Ibis spans along the Gulf and Atlantic Coast and also along the coasts of Mexico and Central America. The non-breeding range extends further inland in North America and also includes the Caribbean. The diet consists primarily of small aquatic prey such as insects and small fishes. Depending on the habitat and the prey abundance, the White Ibis will adjust its diet although studies have found crayfish to be its preferred source of food in most regions. The White Ibis is a tactile, non-visual forager whose main foraging behaviour is probing its beak into the water to feel for and to capture its prey. Being monogamous, the White Ibis has only one mate during the breeding season and both parents care for the young, although males tend to engage in extra-pair copulation with other females to increase their reproductive success. Males have also been found to pirate food away from unmated females and juveniles during the breeding season. Human pollution has affected the behavior of the White Ibis via an increase in the concentrations of methylmercury from release of untreated waste into various habitats. Consumption of methylmercury by White Ibises affects the hormone levels of the birds, disrupting their mating and nesting behavior and leading to lower reproduction rates.
Spotted on May 29, 2011
Submitted on May 29, 2011