/uy"bis/, n., pl. ibises, (esp. collectively) ibis.
1. any of several large wading birds of the family Threskiornithidae, of warm temperate and tropical regions, related to the herons and storks, and characterized by a long, thin, downward-curved bill. Cf. sacred ibis.
2. any of certain similar birds belonging to the stork family Ciconiidae, esp. the wood stork, Mycteria americana.
[1350-1400; ME < L ibis < Gk îbis < Egyptian hb]

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Any of about 20 species of medium-sized wading birds (subfamily Threskiornithinae) of the same family as the spoonbills.

Ibises are found in all warm regions except on South Pacific islands. They wade in shallow lagoons, lakes, bays, and marshes, using their slender, down-curved bill to feed on small fishes and soft mollusks. Species range from 22 to 30 in. (55–75 cm) long. Ibises fly with neck and legs extended, alternately flapping and sailing. They usually breed in vast colonies.

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▪ bird subfamily
 any of about 20 species of medium-sized wading birds constituting the subfamily Threskiornithinae of the family Threskiornithidae (order Ciconiiformes), which also includes the spoonbills. Ibises occur in all warm regions except on South Pacific islands. They wade in shallow lagoons, lakes, bays, and marshes, using their slender, down-curved bills to feed on small fishes and soft mollusks. They range in length from about 55 to 75 centimetres (22 to 30 inches). They fly with neck and legs extended, alternately flapping and sailing.

      Ibises usually breed in vast colonies, building compact stick nests low in bushes or trees and laying three to five eggs, usually dull white or mottled with brown.

 The glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) and its close relative the white-faced ibis (P. chihi) are small forms with dark reddish brown and glossy purplish plumage. As a group they are found throughout the warmer regions of the world.

      The hadada ibis, or hadada (Hagedashia hagedash), of Africa, is a greenish ibis known for its loud call.

      The straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) is unknown outside Australia. It is less aquatic than the other species; its principal food is grasshoppers.

      The hermit ibis (Geronticus eremita), an endangered species, inhabits northern Africa and the Middle East. Its bill and the bare skin on its head are reddish. Breeding colonies once existed in central and southern Europe, Syria, and Algeria but are now known only in Turkey and Morocco.

      The Japanese, or crested, ibis (Nipponia nippon) is white with a red face. Also an endangered species, it was considered to be on the verge of extinction in the late 20th century.

      The sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopica), of southern Arabia and Africa south of the Sahara (and formerly of Egypt), was sacred to the ancient Egyptians. It is about 75 cm (30 in.) long, white with black in its wings, dark plumes on the lower back, and a bare black head and neck.

      The scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber) inhabits northern South America; the white ibis (E. albus) ranges Central and North America.

      For wood storks, sometimes called wood ibises, see stork.

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Universalium. 2010.

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