Glossy Ibis

Did you know?

The Glossy Ibis is the smallest of the three species of ibis in Australia, and habitually nest in the shelter of other, larger species.

During flight, utters a 'thu-thu-thu-u' call.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
September to April
Clutch Size: 
3 to 6
Nestling Period: 
25 days
Conservation Status
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Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Glossy Ibis is a small dark ibis that looks black in the distance. At close quarters the neck is reddish-brown and the body is a bronze-brown with a metallic iridescent sheen on the wings. The distinctive long, curved bill is olive-brown, the facial skin is blue-grey with a bordering white line that extends around the eyes. The eyes, legs and feet are brown.

Similar species: 

There are no similar species to the Glossy Ibis. Both the Straw-necked IbisThreskiornis spinicollis, and the Australian White IbisT. molucca, are larger and have variable areas of white on their body and wings.

Where does it live?

The Glossy Ibis frequents swamps and lakes throughout much of the Australian mainland, but is most numerous in the north. It is a non-breeding visitor to Tasmania and the south-west of Western Australia


The Glossy Ibis requires shallow water and mudflats, so is found in well-vegetated wetlands, floodplains, mangroves and ricefields

Seasonal movements: 

The Glossy Ibis is both migratory and nomadic. Its range expands inland after good rains, but its main breeding areas seem to be in the Murray-Darling Basin of New South Wales and Victoria, the Macquarie Marshes in New South Wales, and in southern Queensland. Glossy Ibis often move north in autumn, then return south to their main breeding areas in spring and summer.

What does it do?

Glossy Ibis feed on frogs, snails, aquatic insects and spiders in damp places. They feed by probing the water and mud with their long, curved bill.


The Glossy Ibis builds a platform nest of sticks, usually with a lining of aquatic plants, between the upright branches of trees or shrubs growing in water. Glossy Ibis breed together with other ibises and other water birds in small colonies.

Living with us

Diversion of water flow into wetlands for irrigation and other purposes disrupts breeding by restricting areas of shallow water. The Macquarie Marshes have suffered greatly in this regard over many years, with the resultant failure of Glossy Ibis to nest there.

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