A stunning bird flaunting its shimmering, rainbow-like feathers on its upper body shines brilliantly when it catches the light.
The Straw-necked Ibis is a unique bird known for its black wings and upper body that have an iridescent purple-bronze sheen and glossy blue-green feathers. The contrast of its white tail, underparts, and undertail coverts against the black underwings is striking. The bird’s neck is adorned with straw-like feathers that are pale buff in color, which extends from the nape to the upper back, joining the upper breast. Its head is all black and bare, forming a pointed bib on the upper neck, with a long bill that curves downwards and dark brown eyes. The upper legs display shades of pink to red, while the lower legs and webbed feet are blackish.
The Flame-throated Bulbul is a stunning bird with a magnificent outfit comprising of golden, yellow and midnight black feathers, complemented by a fiery orange throat. This bird is equally attractive in both males and females, but the female is smaller in size with a shorter beak. Also, the female has a distinguishing dark band across her breast.
The species can be spotted all over Australia, but it is more frequently found on the eastern coastline. Additionally, it can be found in other places like Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, Indonesia, and New Guinea.
The Straw-necked Ibis can be spotted in wet and dry grasslands, as well as on the borders of freshwater marshes, cultivated lands, pastures, and shallow wetlands. They usually stay away from arid areas and saltwater wetlands like coastal mudflats but can be seen in urban parks and alongside roads.
The Straw-necked Ibis is known for its diverse diet, which includes aquatic invertebrates, insects, mollusks, frogs, lizards, small snakes, and small mammals. It is also fond of large insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, caterpillars, and beetles, and can even follow insect swarms. The bird’s unique bill allows it to probe soft mud in shallow water and under plants and roots, searching for crustaceans, snails, and worms.
When it comes to behavior, the Straw-necked Ibis tends to feed in shallow water, using its bill to capture aquatic invertebrates from the surface. It also forages on the ground, targeting large insects that can be harmful to crops. Farmers appreciate this particular trait, leading to the bird being nicknamed the “Farmer’s Friend.” The ibis spends a lot of time feeding and has large legs and webbed feet that aid in movement through marshy areas. The bird is highly nomadic, constantly searching for suitable habitats, and is often seen perched on high bare branches, creating a distinctive silhouette in the Australian landscape. The Straw-necked Ibis is a social creature and breeds in large colonies.
From August to December after heavy rainfall, Straw-necked Ibises congregate in large colonies with other Ibis species, including the Australian White Ibis, for breeding season. They construct nests in seasonally flooded areas that offer vital food resources. The nests are built low in bushes or hidden in reed beds, with both adults contributing to the construction process. Typically, the male gathers materials while the female builds the nest, which may be lined with leaves. The nests consist of sticks, reeds, and rushes, forming a vast trampled platform over water. Several nests can merge, creating an extensive platform reused year after year. The female lays 2 to 5 dull white eggs, and both parents incubate them for approximately 24 to 25 days. While taking turns to incubate, they perform deep bows to each other and to their young before feeding them. Both parents care for the young birds, which fledge about 35 days after hatching and continue to be fed for an additional two weeks after leaving the nest. This species is capable of producing two consecutive broods.
When in flight, the Straw-necked Ibis stretches out its neck and head while gracefully gliding through the air with its large wings slightly raised above its body. These birds typically fly in V-formation as part of a large flock and can soar to great heights.
Despite being a widespread and common species in suitable habitats, the Straw-necked Ibis is not immune to threats. Its freshwater breeding grounds are at risk of destruction, and rising salinity levels pose a significant challenge. However, irrigation in dry regions may actually prove beneficial for this species.