Fun Crested Ibis Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 04, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
Crested ibis facts for kids are educational.

The crested ibis (Nipponia nippon), more commonly known as the Japanese crested ibis or the Asian crested ibis, is a part of the long-legged wading birds belonging to the family Threskiornithidae. They are found in Japan, Korea, China, and eastern Russia.

The crested ibis population is not found in the wild anywhere in these regions except for the Chinese province of Shaanxi. These birds have been hunted and killed to the brink of extinction and are one of the most endangered species of birds in the world.

They are often kept in captivity under intense protection and management and after they are mature enough, they are released into the wild to increase their population by the government of the concerned nations. If you liked these facts about the crested ibis, then you'll surely like these facts about the wandering albatross and guinea fowl too.

Crested Ibis Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a crested ibis?

The Japanese crested ibis is one of the rarest of all ibis subspecies, a bird that is large in size and white in color. Crested ibises were once thought to be extinct in the wild due to them being overhunted and facing habitat losses.

It was once thought to be extinct in the wild. Their crests were once used in hat ornaments and this is the reason they almost became extinct.

What class of animal does a crested ibis belong to?

The Japanese crested ibis, a species of bird found in Asia, belongs to the class Aves of the Animalia Kingdom.

Aves class consists mostly of birds. Birds are vertebrates that have feathers and can fly or be flightless. Forelimbs in this class have been modified as wings for flight and they lack teeth in their mouth.

How many crested ibises are there in the world?

The Japanese crested ibis has been brought back from extinction due to human interferences like overhunting and habitat loss due to deforestation and the use of pesticides in fertilizers due to which they have lost their habitats.

As of now, there are more than 3000 crested ibises that can be found in captivity, and in the wild, the small population size of these birds is in the lower bracket it is reported that China has 2500 of these birds with the majority of them taking shelter in the Chinese Shaanxi Province.

500 of these birds live in Japan and more than 300 can be found in South Korea.

Where does a crested ibis live?

Japanese crested ibises prefer to live in areas that have tall trees for nesting during the breeding season.

What is a crested ibis' habitat?

The Japanese crested ibis can be found inhabiting areas that have tall trees, and either wetlands or agricultural lands for feeding. They are known to forage during the winter season around rice paddies, freshwater ponds, shallow water bodies, and streams in forested areas for food. A small population can be found in and around human habitats, but rarely.

Wetlands are important for the Japanese crested ibis, but due to human interference in their natural range, the crested ibises had to move from their former range to newer ones. Mountainous areas in their natural habitat in Japan do not have many wetlands, causing them to forage on rice paddies.

The preference of their habitat changes seasonally depending on the food sources and places to lay eggs.

Who do crested ibises live with?

The Japanese crested ibis is considered to be a solitary bird and since they are monogamous, a pair will often breed together in the breeding season and will show signs of aggressiveness as they are territorial during this breeding season. Parents will attack other crested ibises to protect their chicks.

How long does a crested ibis live?

The Asian or Japanese crested ibis has a lifespan of about 17-25 years in the wild, and in captivity, it can grow even older provided proper captive breeding and proper care for them. The oldest crested ibis lived to be around 26 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

Japanese crested ibises sexually mature when they are three years old, both the males and the females. During the breeding process, a male will approach a female with materials to use in building a nest and if the female accepts it, the breeding can go through if not, then the male will go to another female and try again.

During the mating process, the female will crouch and the male will mount her until copulation is over.

Japanese crested ibises breed once annually and the breeding season for these birds lasts from March to August. After mating, the female will lay between one and five eggs, the average being three eggs.

Incubation of the eggs is done by both the male and the female for 26-30 days. In case of a predator attack, they will re-nest in other mountainous areas.

The breeding and nesting range of these birds in their Chinese habitats is usually 1,000m above sea level.

What is their conservation status?

The Japanese crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) is listed by the IUCN as an Endangered species. During the 1980s, it was assumed that only 10 of these birds were found in the wild and were on the brink of extinction!

Thankfully, the governments of China and Japan put them under heavy care. Volunteers help by protecting the nests of these birds and driving away predators.

They are protected by laws and are carefully placed under captive breeding. Due to successful captive breeding programs, their population is steadily rising in the wild and captivity.

Due to their crest being in high demand as ornaments, hunters brought this species to the brink of extinction by reducing their population size and in turn pushed them to become an endangered species. Human interference in their natural habitat also caused them to leave their natural home and migrate to other settlements.

As of now, these can be found naturally in the wild only in the Shaanxi province of China.

Crested Ibis Fun Facts

What do crested ibises look like?

Crested ibises are a large bird species, but are small compared to other ibises. Crested ibises are white and their wings are long.

Their plumage, or feathers, are white-tinged with pink and appear pink when seen from below in flight. They have a long, curved bill that is black with a red tip. These birds have a featherless face that is red and their ringed eyes are yellow with a red iris.

They have webbed toes which help them hunt in shallow waters. A large crest can be found on their nape.

How cute are they?

On a cuteness scale of 1-10, this bird gets a 7! These birds can be called cute even though they have a scary look to them thanks to their red face.

How do they communicate?

These endangered species are usually quiet, even during feeding, preening, and resting. This bird does make a low 'gak' sound when it is about to fly. This call is repeated multiple times before they take to the air. This 'gak' call also functions as an alarm call in the wild to alert others of predators.

The parents protect their nests by flapping their wings, extending their necks, and pursuing other birds that look to harm their eggs.

How big is a crested ibis?

Japanese crested ibises reach a height of 27.5-31.4 in (70-80 cm) and in full flight, they have a wingspan of 55.1 in (140 cm)! Both the male and female are the same size and these birds do not show signs of sexual dimorphism (a condition where the female is larger than the male, or vice versa).

How fast can a crested ibis fly?

Unfortunately, there is no specific data as to how fast the crested ibis can fly.

How much does a crested ibis weigh?

Crested ibises are lightweight and weigh between 3.9-4.4 lb (1.8-2 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

No particular name has been assigned to either sex of these birds.

What would you call a baby crested ibis?

Baby crested ibises are called chicks.

Ibis chicks are born with bald heads and orange-red legs. They grow rapidly and are cared for by their parents. Ibis chicks reach independence from their parents by the time they are five months old.

What do they eat?

Crested ibises have a diet that consists of frogs, fish, small crustaceans, insects, and other smaller animals.

Their nostrils are located at the base of their bill and thanks to this, they can breathe underwater when foraging for food by submerging their head in shallow waters.

Are they aggressive?

Crested ibises are aggressive only towards those they assume as predators. They will attack predators and other birds trespassing in a group and will drive them away in case they are threatened. Barring this behavior, they are usually docile.

Would they make a good pet?

No! You cannot keep this bird as a pet as it is an endangered species that is close to extinction.

They are protected in countries like China, Japan, and Korea under strict laws, and owning one of these could land you in jail! You can, however, get a view of these endangered species in protected habitats like Sado Island in Japan, and various protected regions in China and Korea.

Did you know...

When these birds had a thriving population, they were hunted by Samurais who used to collect their feathers to decorate their arrows. Their feathers were also used to make feather brooms that were used in tea ceremonies.

The scientific name for crested ibises, Nipponia Nippon, comes from the name of Japan which is called 'Nippon' in its native language.

In Japan and China, wild crested ibises are appreciated due to their helping eliminate insects and pests from rice paddies and other agricultural fields in wetlands.

The Madagascan crested ibis is endemic to Madagascar, a relative of the Asian crested ibis.

Chinese crested ibis or Asian crested ibis dancing is one of the most performed dances in Shanghai's dance theaters and is a great way to learn more about these birds and the conservation effort put into saving them from the brink of extinction.

Even though they are white, their plumage changes to a gray tone during breeding season as they secrete a black powdery substance. Their bill also becomes bright red.

The governments of Japan, China, and Korea have released dozens of these birds that were raised in captivity and under strict conservation efforts into the wildlife to help grow their population in the wild.

Crested Ibises are of great value to Japan and their appreciation is often seen in popular culture like TV shows and anime. In 2017, the anime 'Kemono Friends' dedicated a song to these birds called 'Crested Ibis' song' (Toki no Uta)!

The African ibis was considered to be sacred and an object of religious importance in ancient Egypt. They were associated with the deity Thoth, commonly known as Djehuty in Egyptian. This deity was dedicated to the importance of mathematics, time, measurement, the moon, and magic.

In Australia, ibises are known as 'bin chickens' because they are found going through trash cans in urban areas!

What is the crested ibis one of the world's most?

The wild crested ibis is one of the world's most endangered species among the ibises and is listed under the IUCN Red List as an Endangered species that is close to extinction. Thankfully, due to solid conservation efforts in the countries in which they are found, their population size is steadily rising.

What are crested ibises known as in Japanese?

The Japanese name for this bird is Toki. The word 'toki-iro' comes from the 'toki' color which refers to the pinkish hue of these birds when they are seen in flight from below.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including grey partridge facts, or blue-and-yellow macaw facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable crested ibis coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

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Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel

Bachelor of Business Management

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Yashvee PatelBachelor of Business Management

Yashvee has won awards for both her writing and badminton skills. She holds a business administration honors degree and has previously interned with social media clients and worked on content for an international student festival. Yashvee has excelled in academic competitions, ranking in the top 100 in the Unified International English Olympiad and placing second in an essay-writing competition. Additionally, she has won the inter-school singles badminton title for two consecutive years.

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