(This blog first appeared on focusingonwildlife.com)
The world’s 28 Ibis species form the bulk of the family Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills), and comprise an interesting group of long-legged, long-beaked, wetland, grassland and forest species. Some are on the brink of extinction (for example Crested, Sao Tome and Giant Ibis), yet others have taken to the modified human world and adapted to become common urban and suburban birds (examples include Hadada, African Sacred and Australian White Ibis.)
I would like to focus on the two fascinating and rather unusual species that make up the genus Geronticus. This generic name is derived from the Greek word for “old man”, while the English name for these species reflects their respective territories; namely Northern and Southern Bald Ibis.
A semi-captive population of approximately 100 birds still exists at Birecik in Turkey (they are given freedom during the 5 month breeding season and then held in captivity during the migration/wintering season). Small semi-captive populations also exist in Spain and Austria and a reintroduction program from the Birecik population has been started in Syria. The only readily accessible area to see wild populations of this remarkable bird is coastal Morocco, near the city of Agadir.
Southern Bald Ibis in recently burned grassland, Karkloof, South Africa, by Adam Riley