Ibis’ White Face

When Leonard and I point out a white-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi) to anyone, the first question is, “Why is it called white-faced? I do not see any white on the face.” Good light, the correct angle and a close view during the breeding season are usually requirements for seeing the ibis’ white face.

A narrow band of white feathering extends around the white-faced ibis’ eyes, under the chin and borders the reddish facial skin during the breeding season. At other times during the year this white outline is almost completely lost. Thus the white-faced ibis does not always have a “white face”, only when in breeding plumage. And even then the light and angle must be right for the white band to be readily visible.

Earlier this summer there was a large flock of white-faced ibis feeding in a flood irrigated alfalfa field about two miles from our house (Lookout CA). Conditions were perfect and the white “faces” were visible. Finally I got photographs of white-faced ibises with white faces.

Two other previous posts (The Ibis and the Hawk and White-faced Ibis) lament my inability to photograph the white face and give more information about these dark, iridescent birds with the long, downturned bills.

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