Blackfaced ibis


Blackfaced ibis (Theristicus melanopis)

The Blackfaced ibis (Theristicus melanopis) is a ibis from the family of ibises and spoonbills (Threskiornithidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
English name:
Blackfaced ibis
German name:
French name:
Ibis à face noire
Scientific name:
Theristicus melanopis

Scientific classification




The adult of nominate race has grey upperparts. Greater wing-coverts are white, whereas primary coverts, all flight feathers, rump and tail are bluish-black or glossy green. The neck is buffy-white to pale ochraceous. On the underparts, chin, throat and breast are ochraceous-buff with grey breast band. The lower breast is more ochraceous. Belly, vent and undertail-coverts are black. On the head, forecrown crown, nape and hindneck are rufous with head darker than neck. The bare face is black, and we can see a small black bare skin area on chin and throat, as a wattle. 

The long, slender, blackish bill is decurved, with slit-like nostrils at bill base. This morphological feature allows the bird to breathe while feeding and probing into water and mud. The eyes are red, surrounded by black orbital skin. Robust legs and feet are reddish. 
Both sexes are similar.

Both sexes are similar.

Juvenile shows dark streaks on neck and scaled pattern on wing-coverts due to buff feathers edges.


It forages by walking slowly and probes into vegetation, soil, mud or water. When feeding in dry areas, it walks more quickly while pecking at the ground, probing in cracks or between stones. 
Thanks to its robust legs, flexible neck and long, sensitive bill, it may detect the preys by touch. Usual preys are insects, molluscs and worms, amphibians, and occasionally small birds and rodents. Small items are swallowed immediately.  

Standard Measurements

Body Length (cm):
The male (drake) of the Blackfaced ibis measures approximately 71-76 centimeters. The female measures approximately 71-76 centimeters.
Body Weight (grams):
The male will weight about 1100-1400 gram. The female will weight about 1100-1400 gram.
The weight is notoriously variable and can only be used as indication!

We can find two subspecies:

  • T.m. melanopis (described above) is found in S Chile and S Argentina. They move to N Argentina after breeding season. There is an isolated population in coastal Peru. 
  • T.m. brackinii occurs in highlands of Ecuador, Peru, NW Bolivia and extreme N Chile. This one is paler than nominate. Foreneck and breast are less ochraceous and more whitish. The bare skin area on chin and throat is often smaller.

Amongst their large colonies, the black-faced ibis is a gregarious (and noisy!) creature; it’s not uncommon to find them nesting in mixed colonies with different aquatic birds. When it comes to mating, they are monogamous and their nests are usually located in tall trees and cliffs. Breeding is a mutual partnership both sexes build the nest.

The female Blackfaced ibis usually lays from 2-3 yellowish white eggs and incubates them for 28 days.

Bird banding:
Recommended closed leg band ring size for the Blackfaced ibis is 14 mm.
The leg band ring can only be applied on a young ibis at around 12 days old.

It doesn't matter what leg that you band, but it's good to have a consistent system.
Suggested: Left leg = Female, Right leg = Male
Maintenance food:
Lundi Ibis See-Ente special
Lundi Ibis See-Ente special
Lundi Ibis See-Ente special
Lundi Ibis See-Ente special

Floating special complete food for sea birds with the highest nutritional requirements thanks to a particularly high protein content of 45%.

Ideal for daily feeding in animals that eat a lot of protein in their natural habitat. A must for "fish eaters".

No information about regulation available

Photos of the Blackfaced ibis