ibis (Īˈbĭs) [key], common name for wading birds with long, slender, decurved bills, found in the warmer regions of both hemispheres. The body is usually about 2 ft (61 cm) long. Most ibises nest in colonies. They feed in ponds, lakes, and brackish marshes on fish and other aquatic animals. The sacred ibis of ancient Egypt, Threskiornis aethiopica, a white and black bird, no longer frequents the Nile basin, although it inhabits other parts of Africa. In the southern part of North America are found the white ibis, Eudocimus albus; the white-faced and eastern glossy ibises, Plegadis falcinellus; and a bird that was formerly called the wood ibis, which is really a stork. The scarlet ibis of South America, E. ruber, is occasionally seen in the S United States. Ibises are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Ciconiiformes, family Threskiornithidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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