Scarlet Ibis at Busch Gardens Tampa
The Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) is a species of ibis that inhabits tropical South America and also Trinidad and Tobago. It is the national bird of Trinidad and is featured on the Trinidad and Tobago coat of arms along with Tobago's national bird, the Rufous-vented Chachalaca.
Adults are 56–61 cm long and weigh 650g. They are completely scarlet, except for its black wing tips. They nest in trees, laying two to four eggs. Their diet is fish, frogs, reptiles and crustaceans. A juvenile Scarlet Ibis is grey and white; as it grows the ingestion of red crabs in the tropical swamps gradually produces the characteristic scarlet plumage.
The life span of Scarlet Ibis is approximately 15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.
This species is very closely related to the American White Ibis and is sometimes considered conspecific with it.
While the species may have occurred as a natural vagrant in southern Florida in the late 19th century, all recent reports of the species in North America have been of introduced or escaped birds. Eggs from Trinidad were placed in White Ibis nests in Hialeah Park in 1962, and the resulting population hybridised with the native ibis, producing "pink ibises" that are still occasionally seen.
Photo by Craig Glenn
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