Fun Scarlet Ibis Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 20, 2022 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Scarlet ibis facts about the wading birds with long legs and long neck.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

The scarlet ibis is found and nests in the coastal regions of northern South America and the Caribbean islands. They are easily recognized due to their brilliant scarlet color, which happens to the food they consume. The scarlet ibis is titled to be one of the national birds of Trinidad and Tobago. The adult birds have scarlet plumage. The juveniles have a mix of grey, brown and white colors. Their feathers are various tints of the same color, and the tips of their wings are rich inky black in color. Their feet and legs are also scarlet. The bills are also the same color, but they may look blackish. The bill is narrow, long, and decurved. These breeding birds are known as strong flyers, with a large wingspan of up to 21 in (53.3 cm).

Here are some interesting facts about the scarlet ibis bird species, after which you must also check out our other articles on common kingfisher facts and birds of paradise facts as well.

Scarlet Ibis Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a scarlet ibis?

The scarlet ibis is a large bird or wader with a distinct bill. They are found in the northern region of South America and the Caribbean.

What class of animal does a scarlet ibis ​belong to?

They belong to the Aves or birds class of animals with a bill. They lay eggs in the clutches of 3-5 in the islands. They are highly migratory birds with a downward curved bill and long legs with webbed feet.

How many scarlet ibises are there in the world?

Tthere are about 100,000-150,000 scarlet ibises. However, the population is decreasing due to overhunting, collection of eggs, and illegal trade. Their habitat is spread across Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, French Guiana, and Guyana.

Where does a scarlet ibis live?

The scarlet ibis nest is found in the northern region of South America. This species is found along the shore from Venezuela to eastern Brazil. Most numbers of these unique birds are found in tropical grassland plains of the Llanos region of western Venezuela and eastern Colombia. It has proved to be a safe haven for these birds away from human encroachment.

What is a scarlet ibis' habitat?

The scarlet ibis is found in swamps, mudflats, shallow bays. They build their nests in dense bushlands or mangroves near the mouth of the rivers. Their habitat spans across South America and Caribbean Islands.

Who do scarlet ibises live with?

Scarlet ibises are known as gregarious and social birds. They are community-conscious birds who will search for food and protect their young ones as one unit. They will live in flocks of thirty or more individuals. Scarlet ibises build their nest close to one another too. They also congregate in larger quantities to protect themselves. Scarlet ibises are found in mixed flocks of spoonbills, storks, egrets, herons, and ducks during feeding, flying, and protection.

How long does a scarlet ibis live?

The lifespan of a scarlet ibis is of 20 years. They have a 50% mortality rate but may live longer in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Scarlet ibis birds have a colonial and social breeding system. They build their nest close to one another. There is more than one nest on each tree. The males will attract females by flights, preening, head rubbing, and rocking motion. The female has to be careful while approaching a male, as the male may attack them if they move away from their display area. Males will mate with more than one female. They migrate to their colonial nesting by mid-September. Scarlet ibis eggs hatch from November to December. The first egg of an ibis is laid 5-6 days after copulations. Females may lay 5-6 eggs. Incubation is for 19-23 days. Nestlings are fledged in 35 days and independent by 75 days. Both male and female ibises share the responsibility of their offspring.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status is ofLeast Concern. However, there is a disturbing trend of illegal trade of nestlings and eggs and overhunting. They are also losing their habitat quickly due to human encroachment, pollution, loss of foraging, nesting, and feeding grounds.

Scarlet Ibis Fun Facts

What do scarlet ibises look like?

The adult birds have a scarlet plumage and a unique small bill. Juveniles have a mix of grey, brown and white colors. Their feathers are various tints of the same color and the tips of their wings are rich inky black in color. Their feet and legs are also scarlet. The bill is also the same color, but it may look blackish. The bill is narrow, long, and decurved.

Scarlet Ibis

How cute are they?

These red-colored birds or chicks are exceptionally cute in appearance and cannot be missed due to their brilliant scarlet orangish coloring of almost their whole body as well as curved bills.

How do they communicate?

Scarlet ibis call involves producing a honking sound when this animal species is disturbed during nesting phases. They make a similar noise while courting.  The chicks or babies produce a shrill sound to communicate their hunger. Non-vocal communication happens through touch, especially during the courtship. The males and females or chicks will wrap their necks in a hug while greeting each other. The females will make a squealing sound.

How big is a scarlet ibis?

The scarlet ibis is a medium-sized bird with a slender neck, feathers, legs, and bodies. The ibis' feathers are quite beautiful. Their size ranges between 22-25 in (55.8-63.5 cm) with wingspan length of around 20-21 in (50.8-53.3 cm).

How fast can a scarlet ibis ​fly?

Even though the ibis' spend most of their time walking and wading through water. They are highly migratory and can fly long distances with ease. Ibises fly in a flock with the classic V-formation. They can fly at a speed of 25 mph (40 kph).

How much does a scarlet ibis weigh?

Scarlet ibis weight ranges between 2.8-3.1 lb (1.27-1.40 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The males and females do not have a specific name. Their flocks are called stand, congregation, and wedge.

What would you call a baby scarlet ibis?

A scarlet ibis baby is known as a chick or a juvenile.

What do they eat?

The scarlet ibis diet varies and preys on crustaceans, mollusks, fish, insects, frogs, and small snakes. This species eats crustaceans and aquatic invertebrates with help of their strong downward curved bills. Crayfish and small crabs are also a part of their diet, along with aquatic insects. These red-colored amazing animals forage their food by probing in water or pecking for prey in soil surfaces.

Are they dangerous?

The ibis is not dangerous to humans in any way. Ibis only preys on sea creatures and doesn’t seem to harm humans in any way.

Would they make a good pet?

These red-colored animals may survive well in captivity but it won't be advisable as they lose their brilliant red coloring and their nomadic lifestyle. More work should be done to protect their natural habitat.

Did you know...

Ibises are ancient birds with fossil records going back 60 million years.

The nestlings of this animal will learn to swim around the nesting areas before they can fly.

The scarlet ibis's adaptations

Their brilliant red color becomes deeper with age. These breeding birds are waders who prefer to live onshore lines or in moist inland regions. They may not adapt well to any other regions.

The scarlet ibis's symbolism

The scarlet ibis symbolism holds great importance in various cultures. Scarlet ibis symbolizes the people who are lost or out of place, weak and fragile.

Why is the scarlet ibis red?

The scarlet ibis is red in color due to its prey. It comes from the carotene in the crustaceans which they eat.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these jacana facts, and skimmer facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our scarlet ibis coloring pages.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

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Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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