Threskiornis aethiopicus

Threskiornis aethiopicus, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Ciconiiformes
Familia: Threskiornithidae
Subfamilia: Threskiornithinae
Genus: Threskiornis
Species: Threskiornis aethiopicus
Subspecies: T. a. abbotti - T. a. aethiopicus - T. a. bernieri

Name

Threskiornis aethiopicus (Latham, 1790)

Reference

Index ornithologicus 2 p.706

Vernacular names
Česky: Ibis posvátný
Español: ibis sagrado

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The African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) is a species of wading bird of the ibis family, Threskiornithidae, which breeds in sub-Saharan Africa, southeastern Iraq, and formerly in Egypt, where it was venerated and often mummified as a symbol of the god Thoth. It has also been introduced into France, Italy, Spain, and the United States (S. Florida).

The bird nests in tree colonies, often with other large wading birds such as herons. It builds a stick nest often in a baobab and lays 2-3 eggs.
The African Sacred Ibis occurs in marshy wetlands and mud flats, both inland and on the coast. It will also visit cultivation and rubbish dumps. It feeds on various fish, frogs, small mammals, reptiles and smaller birds as well as insects. An adult individual is 68 cm long with all-white body plumage apart from dark plumes on the rump. The bald head and neck, thick curved bill and legs are black. The white wings show a black rear border in flight. Sexes are similar, but juveniles have dirty white plumage, a smaller bill and some feathering on the neck.

This bird is usually silent, but occasionally makes some croaking noises.

The introduced and rapidly growing populations in southern Europe are seen as a potential problem, since these large predators can devastate breeding colonies of species such as terns. They also compete successfully for nest sites with Cattle and Little Egrets. The adaptable Ibises supplement their diet by feeding at rubbish tips, which helps them to survive the winter in these temperate regions.

The African Sacred Ibis is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
Sacred Ibis in myth and legend

Venerated and often mummified by Ancient Egyptians as a symbol of the god Thoth, the Ibis was according to Herodotus and Pliny the Elder also invoked against incursions of serpents. It was also said that the flies that brought pestilence died immediately upon propitiatory sacrifices of this bird.[2]

References

1. ^ BirdLife International (2008). Threskiornis aethiopicus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 05 November 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
2. ^ Pliny, Natural History Book X Chapter 41)

* Barlow, Wacher and Disley, Birds of The Gambia. ISBN 1-873403-32-1

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