10 Fun Facts About The White-Shouldered Ibis

The White-Shouldered Ibis is one of the most majestic birds that you can find in all of Southeast Asia.

10 Fun Facts About The White-Shouldered Ibis

It has a huge wingspan and a long beak that is slightly curved.

However, one of the tragedies of this bird’s existence is that it is one of the most endangered in this part of the world.

The conservation status of this bird is ‘critically threatened’, which means that it is on the way to extinction if current trends continue.

This is why awareness and information are crucial to maintaining the life of this bird.

There are various conservation efforts being made to increase the numbers of this bird once again.

But what are some facts about this bird? What does it eat? Which habitats is it most attracted to? When and how does it mate?

How can you identify it in the wild? Well, we have 10 fun facts about the White-Shouldered Ibis that will hopefully prompt you to get more involved in its conservation.

10 Fun Facts About The White-Shouldered Ibis

1. This Bird Does Have White Shoulders

Well, it might appear so when it is in flight, but the white patches are commonly found on the neck and chin of this bird.

They also have a white patch on their wings, which can usually be seen as a thin white line when it is sitting with its wings closed.

The rest of the plumage is a mixture of blue and black, with it being more brownish and blacker on the wings and a slate-colored black head.

The younger species of White-Shouldered Ibis has paler blue plumage with whiteish-blue legs.

2. This Birds Cries Are ‘Unearthly’

Or at least that is how they’ve been described by some people.

They have a diverse range of screams, whether it is the honking shriek of a goose or the territorial shout that is quite hoarse and low in the throat.

During copulation, it has another cry that sounds like the short and sharp cry of a black woodpecker.

You might want to listen to recordings of these various cries, as they can sound like they are coming from different birds.

3. Most Of Them Are In Cambodia

That’s right, over 80-85% of the population of the White-Shouldered Ibis can be found in Cambodia.

There are 346 of these birds in the Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area, with significant portions of the population found in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Mekong River.

There used to be thriving populations of this bird in other parts of Asia, including Thailand, Myanmar, China, Indonesian Borneo, and Laos, although they are all extinct in those regions now.

4. This Bird Likes Certain Trees

The habitat of the White-Shouldered Ibis is very specific, mainly being a dipterocarp-dominant forest that is quite dry in climate.

The dipterocarp is a type of lowland rainforest tree that has wide green leaves and pinkish protrusions, although some of these species are endangered due to over foresting.

However, you can find this Ibis species in rice fields, grasslands, lakesides surrounded by forest, river edges, gravel and shingle banks, sandbanks (usually at wider rivers), and on sandy islands that can be found in the center of rivers such as the Sekong.

5. It Eats Mainly Insects

10 Fun Facts About The White-Shouldered Ibis

Although it has also been known to feast on frogs, smaller amphibians, and eels.

But its primary diet consists of invertebrates such as worms, mole crickets, leeches, and smaller beetle larvae.

It will usually try and source this food from muddy pools that are surrounded by dense vegetation.

It will feed far more extensively during the breeding season when it has to source food for its chicks.

6. They Are Solitary Breeders

This bird will nest during the dry December – April season, although it will start to hunt for food when the weather gets a bit wetter and there are frogs and other amphibians hiding in the crevices which the White-Shouldered Ibis can pick off for food for its young.

This will build a nest from figs and tree branches in a canopy around 25 feet above the forest floor. They will normally roost alone during this breeding season.

7. But They Can Be Social

Once the wet season commences during the July – October season, then these birds come out of their solitary nesting behavior and will nest communally in trees.

They have also been observed to congregate to forage for food in the watery pools and rice paddies.

There have been over 100 White-Shouldered Ibises noted at any one time roving for food in this area.

8. This Bird Is Under Threat

Due to wetlands being drained on a larger scale for agricultural developments, a lot of the habitats of the White-Shouldered Ibis have been decimated.

This creature has now reached the conservation status of ‘critically endangered’, which is two stages away from extinction.

This bird is also in competition with human fishers along the banks of the Mekong River, who often catch frogs and eels to sell at the local markets.

9. They Live For 20 Years

The average lifespan of the White-Shouldered Ibis is traditionally around 20 years, which is longer than a lot of other birds of the same species.

They will reach sexual maturity after around 4 -5 years, with the younger Ibises staying brown until they reach maturity.

10. They Lay 2 – 5 Eggs

During the nesting season, this species of Ibis will only lay a handful of eggs.

They might usually share their nesting colonies with other species of birds, including herons and egrets.

The eggs will hatch after around 21 – 23 days and the fledglings will fly the nest after around 35 days.


We hope that our list of facts has taught you something about the white-shouldered ibis.

There is a lot more information about this bird and it is important to learn as much as you can, especially if you are planning to get involved with conservation efforts.

Olivia Kepner