Scarlet Ibis


Scarlet Ibis at the Brandywine Zoo by Robert FriesThe Brandywine Zoo has four unrelated male Scarlet Ibis: Toby (hatched 4/10/14), Rupert (hatched 7/19/07), Carl (hatched 5/10/10), and Fernando (hatched June 2013). Toby, Rupert, and Carl all came from the Toledo Zoo, while Fernando came from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. You can find them living in our South American Aviary habitat!

Tropical forests, mangroves, lakes, wetlands, estuaries.

Northern South America from Venezuela to Brazil.

Carnivore – crayfish, crabs, insects, frogs, fish, mollusks.

Stunning pink feathers, with slightly webbed feet and thin, down-curved bill.

25 inches (63.5 cm) tall; Wingspan: 20-22 inches (52-56 cm)

About 2 lbs (1.35 kg)

Wild: 16 years
Under Human Care: 20+ years

Scarlet Ibis are threatened by habitat loss when the freshwater and brackish water marshes they rely on for food and nesting are converted for agriculture or construction. They are also illegally hunted for bushmeat and the pet trade. Poachers will also collect their eggs for the pet trade. Though they are currently listed as Last Concern, their population trends show their numbers are decreasing.

Least Concern

Colony-nesters. They lay 3-5 pale green eggs with brown streaks, which they incubate for 19-23 days. Chicks fledge after 39 to 45 days.
• Both the male and female take turns in guarding the nest site until the chicks are large enough to defend themselves.

They are a nomadic species, with seasonal shifts and migrations between different coastal locations and interior wetlands.

• They live in large mutualistic colonies with many other wading bird species. These flocks can reach thousands of individual birds.
• Living in dense groups helps them to keep watch for predatory cats and birds.
• While they do live in large colonies, they can be territorial of their individual nest sites.

They are a rather quiet species. But they will grunt, croak, honk, or produce a shrill “squeal.”


Males and females are nearly indistinguishable from each other, but males are slightly larger and have a longer bill.

The scarlet ibis is the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago, and found on their $1 bill.

Fossils for this species have been found dating back to 60 million years ago!

They are valuable to farmers because of their carnivorous appetite for crop pests.

Young Ibis chicks are able to swim before they can fly!

What are AZA Zoos doing for Scarlet Ibis?

Their zoo population is managed through conservation breeding programs called Species Survival Plan programs, which ensures genetic diversity and species health. While scarlet ibises are not currently endangered, they do face some threats in their natural habitats which include alteration of wetlands, hunting, and pesticides. AZA zoos are working to maintain a long-term, genetically valuable population of Scarlet Ibises through their SSP program.

Scarlet ibis at the Brandywine Zoo by Robert Fries

More images of our Scarlet Ibis