GLOSSY IBIS – (Plegadis falcinellus)
The Glossy Ibis is a wading bird measuring around 60 cm (24 in.) long, which makes him a medium sized ibis. Its body is brown-red and its wings dark green-blue. Its feathers are shiny, hence the English name. The bill is around 12 cm (5 in.) long and dark grey-brown. The legs are grey. The Latin name of the bird refers to the sickle shape of its bill.
This ibis species breeds in colonies, which can also contain other bird species of wading birds. It feeds on insects and crayfish, digging into the mud and shallow water with its specialized bill. It may also feed on small reptiles (snakes) and fish.
The glossy ibis is an Old World species that is believed to have settled along the east coast of the United States from Africa in the 1800s, navigating on trade winds. From there it gradually expanded its new territory, and now some individuals have been observed as far north as the coasts of Maine and Nova Scotia (Cape Sable Island). Therefore it was just a matter of time for that bird to show up on PEI coasts. Chances are increased when birds are blown off course by storms, which is likely what happened to the individual below, photographed by Lois Kilburn at Priest Pond. She mentioned to me that the bird stayed for 10 days there. She was even able to take a video of the bird (below).