Eyeing the Ibis
It’s easy to ignore ibises when you see hundreds of them each week. Here in southwest Florida, there are millions of these beautiful, curved-bill birds, with huge populations of them in the Everglades. Fortunately for me, some of them, it seems, seek me out. When I walk by them, they look up at me. When I have my camera, they pose. For that, I am thankful.
Although most Ibises stay safely in the marsh, occasionally one ventures onto someone’s lawn or even in the street. Recently, I met one crossing the road that runs between two small ponds. Although I got quite close to him, he did not seem to mind. He even stopped for a minute so I could take his picture.
I only recently learned that the Ibis is a symbol of great wisdom has the ability to make magic. The name of the bird is based on a Greek word for “sacred bird.” The Audubon Society tells us that the White Ibis is a symbol of danger and optimism because the bird is the last to seek shelter before a hurricane and the first to emerge afterward.
While bicycling earlier this week, I came across a large congregation of White Ibises. Fortunately, I had my camera, which I often carry in a backpack when traversing our community’s nature trails. I pulled it out, focused, and shot away.
While most of the White Ibises were in the marsh, there was also activity in the sky. Dozens of other birds were circling, and some were landing. I switched my camera to a 1/2000 shutter speed and looked to the sky. A group of four Glossy Ibises, which are considerably less common here, was passing overhead. The birds are supposed to have a wingspan of up to 38 inches. The ones I saw seemed smaller. I shot away and got a few nice pictures.
Usually, my best encounters with Ibises are in a marsh near Estero Bay. We have a boardwalk leading to the bay that passes over a large expanse of marsh. More often than not, especially in winter, White Ibises will feed in this area. Some will also roost in the branches of the trees, providing great photo opportunities.
I am told there are 28 different species of Ibises. I suspect that I have seen a few that I failed to identify, perhaps assuming they were juveniles. I have set a goal of identifying at least five species in the next three months.
Other articles by this author:
In Favor of Florida’s Wood Storks
There is a lot to like in a huge prehistorically-looking bird