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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 20.4 years (captivity) Observations: In the wild, the oldest individual found in one study was 9 years old (John Terres 1980). One animal was still alive after 20.4 years in captivity (Brouwer et al. 1994).
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Behavior

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White-faced ibises communicate through sounds and visual displays. There are multiple different sounds that these birds make which have different meanings. There are separate sounds for calling to their young, when a mate is returning to the nest, and a sound used as a feeding call.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Conservation Status

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White-faced ibises have a large geographic range and populations remain large. Population trends haven't been quantified, but populations are believed to be stable currently.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Benefits

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White-faced ibises sometimes have an economic impact on farmers because they can trample crops in wet fields during foraging. Crayfish farmers experiences losses when white-faced ibises visit their operations.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Benefits

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Ibises are hunted for food in some areas. They are also important for birding ecotourism and are essential components of the healthy, wetland habitats in which they live.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Associations

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White-faced ibises aerate the soil with their foraging method of pushing their bill into the ground. They are important predators of many aquatic invertebrate groups, impacting their populations. Additionally, they are the hosts of several species of parasites: Ardeicola rhaphidius, Ciconiphilus blagoweschenskii, Colpocephalum leptopygos, Ibidoecus bisignatus, and Plegadiphilus plegadis.

Ecosystem Impact: soil aeration

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Ardeicola rhaphidius
  • Ciconiphilus blagoweschenskii
  • Colpocephalum leptopygos
  • Ibidoecus bisignatus
  • Plegadiphilus plegadis
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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Trophic Strategy

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White-faced ibises feed by probing the substrate with their long bill, in search of small animals. They feed in large groups of up to 1000 individuals. They feed mainly in moist areas around bodies of water and also in shallow (less than 20 cm) water. They are primarily carnivorous and feed on insects, crustaceans, spiders, snails, leeches, and amphibians. Snails and slugs are the large prey group by volume, accounting for 55 to 90% of all food eaten. Prey taken varies with the season, with more insects in the spring and summer than in other seasons. Males tend to eat more snails and slugs and females tend to eat more insects.

Animal Foods: amphibians; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks; terrestrial worms; aquatic crustaceans

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Molluscivore )

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Distribution

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White-faced ibises are widespread, with two distinct ranges; one population is found in North and Middle America and a separate population is found in South America. Those found in North and Middle America cover most of the western and mid-western United States and most of Mexico. Breeding areas are as far north as southern Canada and as far east as Nebraska. Additionally they are found along the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana and in central Mexico. However, all except those found in California, Texas, Louisiana and central Mexico will migrate to southern parts of their range during the non-breeding season. Most of these winter in Mexico but other populations migrate to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. South American population of white-faced ibises do not migrate for the winter. They are found from southern Brazil and southeastern Bolivia to northern Argentina. The eastern and western boundaries of their range are the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Habitat

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White-faced ibises are found in both temperate and tropical regions. They tend to live in fresh and saltwater marshes containing many rushes and sedges which are used to nest on, for nesting materials, and for finding food. These birds are also found around ponds, rivers and in flooded pastures and agricultural fields. Rainy conditions are required for both foraging and nesting rainy conditions are required, limiting the areas in which they are found and influencing movement patterns. White-faced ibises are found from near sea level to 4300 m elevation in South America.

Range elevation: 0 to 4300 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Wetlands: marsh

Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Expectancy

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The longest known lifespan of this species in the wild is 14 years and 6 months. In captivity they have lived to 14 years. In a study done in Utah in 1967, 111 birds that had been tagged at birth were recovered, all of which died by the age of 9.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
14.5 (high) years.

Range lifespan
Status: captivity:
14 (high) years.

Typical lifespan
Status: wild:
9 (high) years.

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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White-faced ibises weigh between 450 and 525 grams and are 46 to 56 cm in length. Those found in South America tend to be smaller than those found in North America. When white-faced ibises first hatch they are bare on the underside and sparsely covered with brown or black down. After about two weeks they start to gain their juvenile plumage, which consists of the loss of down and gaining green and purple colored feathers. Juveniles are also noticeably smaller than adults. Adults are dark in color, either maroon or brown with dark green reflections on the underside. During mating season the head, neck, upper back, wing-coverts and underside becomes more chestnut in color. In both breeding and nonbreeding seasons there is a metallic green look to the flight feathers. These ibises get their name from the white coloring, which can be seen on their face and throat. Males have the same coloring as females but males are generally bigger than females. Parts of the face, as well as the legs and feet are red or purple because bare skin is exposed. The length of the bill varys between 15 and 18 cm, males have longer bills than females. There are no described sub-species.

Range mass: 450 to 525 g.

Range length: 46 to 56 cm.

Range wingspan: 94 to 99 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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The eggs, nestlings, and fledglings of white-faced ibises are taken by many different predators, including gull species (Larus), black-billed magpies (Pica pica), black-crowned night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), common ravens (Corvus corax), raccoons (Procyon lotor), striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis), spotted skunks (Spilogale putorius), coyotes (Canis latrans), mink (Neovison vison), and long-tailed weasels (Mustela frenata). Mammals are more likely to become predators when water levels around nests fall, making access to the nest easier. Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) and red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) are able to prey on the adult white-faced ibises, but Ryder and Manny (2005) report that predation on adults is rare. Humans (Homo sapiens) are major predators of white-faced ibises, for food, feathers, and sport. Adults are vigilant in protecting their eggs and young from predators, helping to avoid predation. Their flocking habits also help in alerting flock members to potential danger.

Known Predators:

  • peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus)
  • red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • long-tailed weasels (Mustela frenata)
  • spotted skunks (Spilogale putorius)
  • coyotes (Canis latrans)
  • mink (Neovison vison)
  • striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis)
  • humans (Homo sapiens)
  • black-billed magpies (Pica pica)
  • gull species (Larus)
  • black-crowned night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  • common ravens (Corvus corax)
  • raccoons (Procyon lotor)
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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Reproduction

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If conditions are favorable, the mating process begins shortly after white-faced ibises return from their wintering locations. If conditions are not favorable, mating can be delayed temporarily or not undertaken at all in that year. Nesting occurs in dense, large colonies. It is unknown when the male and female bond. Some appear to return from wintering locations already as mated pairs, some seem to form pairs in the one or two weeks proceeding mating. It is also unknown how long this pairing lasts. Males display at multiple possible nesting sites, including previously used nests. Males use “ritualized bill probing” and also give a call that interested females answer with another call. Females choose the actual nesting site.

Mating System: monogamous

White-faced ibises breed once per year. The breeding season in North America is from April to May. In the event of unfavorable breeding conditions, this season can sometimes last until mid-June or the season can be skipped altogether. In South America the breeding season occurs in November and December. Eggs are laid at a one to two day interval with the average number of eggs laid each season being three to four and a range of two to seven. The eggs hatch after 20 days (range: 17 to 26). Before the young can fly on their own they are fed by their parents. During the first week after hatching there is a 60% mortality rate for third and fourth eggs produced, compared with a 5% mortality rate for first and second eggs. Young fledge after five weeks and are independent after eight weeks.

Breeding interval: White-faced ibises breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Nesting generally occurs April to June in North America and November to December in South America.

Range eggs per season: 2 to 7.

Average eggs per season: 3.5.

Range time to hatching: 17 to 26 days.

Average time to hatching: 20 days.

Average fledging age: 5 weeks.

Average time to independence: 8 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Average eggs per season: 3.

White-faced ibis parents take turns in making the nest and guarding it. The male starts guarding the nest while the female gathers materials and then the role reverses while the female builds the nest the male gathers materials. Once the eggs have been laid, the parents take turns in caring for the eggs, normally the males during the day and the females at night. Both sexes will fiercely guard the nest and the area around the nest within a meter against intruders. They shade or incubate the eggs to keep them at the correct temperature. This treatment continues for the first week following hatching and occurs to a lesser extent (left alone for up to three hours) during the second week and is absent in the third week. Both male and female adults will feed the young. This is done by regurgitating partially digested food. The parents will also take the young on both a short walk and a short flight around the colony. There is no evidence to believe there is an association between the parents and young after they have reached independence.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Gumbleton, M. 2007. "Plegadis chihi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Plegadis_chihi.html
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Matthew Gumbleton, Kalamazoo College
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White-faced ibis

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The white-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi) is a wading bird in the ibis family, Threskiornithidae.

This species breeds colonially in marshes, usually nesting in bushes or low trees. Its breeding range extends from the western United States south through Mexico, as well as from southeastern Brazil and southeastern Bolivia south to central Argentina, and along the coast of central Chile. Its winter range extends from southern California and Louisiana south to include the rest of its breeding range.

Description

The white-faced ibis is very similar to the glossy ibis in its non-breeding plumages, but it tends to be slightly smaller and the plumage color is somewhat warmer. Breeding adults have a pink bare face bordered with white feathers (rather than a bluish bare face with no bordering feathers), a grey bill, and brighter colored, redder legs. Adults have red eyes year-round, whereas glossy ibises have dark eyes. Juveniles of the two species are nearly identical.[2]

Measurements:[3]

  • Length: 18.1-22.1 in (46-56 cm)
  • Weight: 15.9-18.5 oz (450-525 g)
  • Wingspan: 35.4-36.6 in (90-93 cm)

Distribution

The white-faced ibis occurs in Canada, the United States, Central America and the southern half of South America.[1] In 2012, the total population size was estimated to be 1.2 million individuals, and increasing. The IUCN rates it as being of Least Concern.[1]

Migration between North and South America does not occur. Within North America, birds breeding in northern areas of the range move south to wintering areas.[4] For example, breeders in northern California and southern Oregon move to wintering areas in southern California and Mexico.

Origin

The white-faced ibis bears a strong resemblance to the related glossy ibis, and in the past was sometimes considered to be a subspecies of the glossy ibis.[5] Another theory was that upon coming to the New World, a small isolated glossy ibis population evolved to become its own separate species.[6] However, recent molecular phylogenetic studies show that the white-faced ibis may actually be paraphyletic.[7] In fact, members of the white-faced ibis populations in the United States appear to be more closely related to glossy ibises than to members of white-faced ibis populations in Southern Brazil.[7]

Feeding

The white-faced ibis eats a variety of organisms, including many invertebrates such as insects, leeches, snails, crayfish and earthworms. It may also eat vertebrates such as fish, newts, and frogs.[8][9] Its feeding style is to use its bill to probe for prey.

Breeding and nesting

This species breeds colonially in marshes, usually nesting in bushes or low trees. Its breeding range extends from the western United States south through Mexico, as well as from southeastern Brazil and southeastern Bolivia south to central Argentina, and along the coast of central Chile. Its winter range extends from southern California and Louisiana south to include the rest of its breeding range. The white-faced ibis chooses to nest in the parts of a marsh with dense vegetation [8] such as bulrush, cattails, shrubs and short trees.[10] It will then build a nest from reeds. The white-faced ibis usually lays three or four blue-green eggs at a time.[6]

Lifespan

White-faced ibises in captivity live up to fourteen years on average. In the wild, white-faced ibises usually live for nine years; however the oldest recorded wild white-faced ibis lived for fourteen years and six months.[10]

Threats

In the past, the white-faced ibis faced many threats from humans. Studies completed in Utah in the 1960s (before this species was added to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) showed that 82.9% of recorded deaths in banded birds were a result of being shot.[5] However, the main causes of decline of this species previously were pesticides and habitat destruction.[6] The pesticide DDT caused eggshells to be so thin and fragile that parent white-faced ibises crushed the eggs when they were incubating them.[6] Also, since this species is so dependent on wetlands and marshes for both feeding and nesting, changes to water systems such as pollution and man-made draining of water habitats had devastating impacts on members of this species in the past.[8][9] In order to correct these damages, DDT was banned in 1970 and various programs were created to better maintain and protect wetland nesting habitats.[11] Yet, there is still some debate as to whether or not populations of white-faced ibises in all geographic areas are recovered and growing.[11]

References

  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2016). "Plegadis chihi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22697426A93613243. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22697426A93613243.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ "White-faced Ibis". Birding Hawaii. 2004. Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  3. ^ "White-faced Ibis Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  4. ^ "White-faced Ibis". Audubon. 13 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b Ryder, Ronald. (1967) “Distribution, Migration and Mortality of the White-Faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) in North America”. Bird-Banding 38: 257-277.
  6. ^ a b c d Audubon White-faced Ibis, Retrieved 11 April 2014
  7. ^ a b Ramirez, J. L., C. Y. Miyaki, and S. N. Del Lama. "Molecular phylogeny of Threskiornithidae (Aves: Pelecaniformes) based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA." Genetics and Molecular Research 12.3 (2013): 2740-2750.
  8. ^ a b c Great Basin Bird Observatory White-faced Ibis, Retrieved 22 April 2014
  9. ^ a b Texas Parks and Wildlife White-faced Ibis, Retrieved 11 April 2014
  10. ^ a b Ryder, Ronald A. and David E. Manry.(2005)"White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)”, The Birds of North America Online” (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:,
  11. ^ a b D. Dark-Smiley and D. Keinath. (2003) “Species Assessment for White-faced Ibis”. United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management.

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White-faced ibis: Brief Summary

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The white-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi) is a wading bird in the ibis family, Threskiornithidae.

This species breeds colonially in marshes, usually nesting in bushes or low trees. Its breeding range extends from the western United States south through Mexico, as well as from southeastern Brazil and southeastern Bolivia south to central Argentina, and along the coast of central Chile. Its winter range extends from southern California and Louisiana south to include the rest of its breeding range.

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