WATTLED IBIS (BOSTRYCHIA CARUNCULATA) WING 325 – 380 MM

Because of its loud, raucous “haa – haa – haa – haa” call, the Wattled Ibis is easily recognized even from some distance away. A flock of these Ibises rising or flying overhead becomes especially noisy and obvious. In flight a white patch shows on the upper surface of the ibis’ wing, and at close range it’s tolerate wattle is visible. These two diagnostic features distinguish the Wattled Ibis from the closely related Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia Hagedavli), which also occurs in Ethiopia. The Wattled Ibis occurs throughout the Ethiopian plateau from about 1500 meters (5000 feet) to the highest moorlands; it is most common along highland river courses with rocky, cliff like edges but is found also in open country and ill olive, juniper, podocarpus, hagenia, Saint John’s Wort and giant heath forests and occasionally in eucalyptus stands. The ibis is gregarious, often flocking in groups of 50 to 100; rarely is it found alone. Small flocks of Ibis can often be seen in Addis Ababa, flying between the old Palace and Trinity Cathedral grounds and in the area surrounding the National Palace. The birds normally roost on cliff edges; in the early morning, they fly and call noisily while following the river courses to their feeding areas, which are usually in open country. With their long downward curved beaks they probe the ground, searching for insects and other small invertebrates. Little is known about the Ibis’s breeding habits. The prenuptial behavior including establishment of pairs and preparation of nesting sites as well as length of incubation and brooding behavior are not known. The Ibis nests in the little rains in March – April, in the big rains in July and occasionally in the dry season in December. Its nest is made of sticks and lined with grass stems, mosses and strips of bark. The Wattled Ibis normally lays two to three dirty white, rough shelled eggs. The birds seem typically to nest in colonies and bushes growing out from cliffs, but surprisingly few of their nesting sites have been reported considering what a common and obvious plateau bird it is. Occasionally the Wattled is nests singly or in two or three on tops of trees or on edges of houses. The young, covered in black feathers when still at the colony, are fed away from the colonial site once they can fly. Little else about the life of this species is known: it provides an excellent opportunity for study and observation of an Ethiopian endemic.

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