The other week I posted some photos of Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) and was quite surprised at the interest shown by overseas readers of the blog. I think we often forget that what is common and unremarkable in the local environment is not so in other places.
White Ibis have become common in cities and towns on the east coast of Australia. These birds have the unfortunate ability to adapt to feeding on whatever humans drop or put into rubbish bins or land fills. When city parks become home to hundreds of these large birds (65-75 cms or 25-30 inches) then local councils are pressured to do something to control them. Some cities have simply culled them. A few years back Brisbane council hired a man with a trained Wedge-tailed Eagle to fly over the parks where the Ibis were the most numerous. It worked! However, at the same time as the birds are a problem in urban areas, they are becoming scarce in inland wetland areas. So a debate has been raging as to whether they are a pest or an endangered species.
The Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) is about the same size as the White Ibis but it has not adapted to eating human left-overs! It is found around fresh water swamps and in grassland. It eats small aquatic creatures and also grasshoppers and crickets etc. Because of its liking for grasshoppers etc it has been called the "farmers' friend". Ibises also use their long bills to probe into the ground for food. Yesterday, I saw these Straw-necked Ibis busily moving across some vacant land and picking up whatever insects moved. I frequently see both kinds of Ibis around town.
For more birds from around the world visit Wild Bird Wednesday.