Wattled ibis

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Wattled ibis
In Ethiopia
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Genus: Bostrychia
B. carunculata
Binomial name
Bostrychia carunculata
(Rüppell, 1837)
  • Ibis carunculataRüppell, 1837
  • Geronticus carunculatus(Rüppell, 1837)

The wattled ibis (Bostrychia carunculata) is a species of bird in the family Threskiornithidae. It is endemic to the Ethiopian highlands and is found only in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined.

Bird Warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrates with wings, feathers and beaks

Birds, also known as Aves or avian dinosaurs, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a strong yet lightweight skeleton. Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) ostrich. They rank as the world's most numerically-successful class of tetrapods, with approximately ten thousand living species, more than half of these being passerines, sometimes known as perching birds. Birds have wings which are more or less developed depending on the species; the only known groups without wings are the extinct moa and elephant birds. Wings, which evolved from forelimbs, gave birds the ability to fly, although further evolution has led to the loss of flight in flightless birds, including ratites, penguins, and diverse endemic island species of birds. The digestive and respiratory systems of birds are also uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly seabirds and some waterbirds, have further evolved for swimming.

Threskiornithidae family of birds

The family Threskiornithidae includes 34 species of large wading birds. The family has been traditionally classified into two subfamilies, the ibises and the spoonbills; however recent genetic studies are casting doubt on the arrangement, and revealing the spoonbills to be nested within the old world ibises, and the new world ibises as an early offshoot.



A large, dark ibis with white shoulder patches and white eyes. A thin wattle hangs from the base of the broad bill. These two features, and no white line on cheek, distinguish this ibis from its close relative the hadada ibis (Bostrychia hagedash). The average length is 60 cm.

Wattle (anatomy) fleshy caruncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck in several groups of birds and mammals

A wattle is a fleshy caruncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck in several groups of birds and mammals. A caruncle is defined as 'A small, fleshy excrescence that is a normal part of an animal's anatomy'. Within this definition, caruncles in birds include those found on the face, wattles, dewlaps, snoods and earlobes. Wattles are generally paired structures but may occur as a single structure when it is sometimes known as a dewlap. Wattles are frequently organs of sexual dimorphism. In some birds, caruncles are erectile tissue and may or may not have a feather covering.

The beak, bill, and/or rostrum is an external anatomical structure of birds that is used for eating and for preening, manipulating objects, killing prey, fighting, probing for food, courtship and feeding young. The terms beak and rostrum are also used to refer to a similar mouth part in some ornithischians, pterosaurs, turtles, cetaceans, dicynodonts, anuran tadpoles, monotremes, sirens, pufferfish, billfishes and cephalopods.

Hadada ibis species of bird

The hadeda ibis, also called hadada, is an ibis native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is named for its loud three to four note calls uttered in flight especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees. Although not as dependent on water as some ibises, they are found near wetlands and often live in close proximity to humans, foraging in cultivated land and gardens. A medium sized ibis with stout legs and a typical down-curved bill, the wing coverts are iridescent with a green or purple sheen. They are non-migratory but are known to make nomadic movements in response to rain particularly during droughts. Their ranges in southern Africa have increased with an increase in tree cover and irrigation in human-altered habitats.

Range and habitat

They may occur all over Ethiopian highlands at altitudes ranging from 1500 m to the highest moorlands at 4100 m. It has also been recorded on the coast of Eritrea. It prefers meadows and highland river courses. It is often found in rocky places and cliffs (where it roosts and breeds), but also in open country, cultivated land, city parks and olive tree ( Olea africana ) and juniper ( Juniperus procera ) mixed forests. [2] It has also become well adapted to anthropic landscapes and conditions; it can be seen in green areas and lawns of for example down-town Addis Ababa, year round. The wattled ibis is common to abundant.

Moorland type of habitat found in upland areas with (sometimes marshy) poor acid soil and overgrown with low vegetation

Moorland or moor is a type of habitat found in upland areas in temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands and montane grasslands and shrublands biomes, characterised by low-growing vegetation on acidic soils. Moorland nowadays generally means uncultivated hill land, but includes low-lying wetlands. It is closely related to heath although experts disagree on precisely what distinguishes the types of vegetation. Generally, moor refers to highland, high rainfall zones, whereas heath refers to lowland zones which are more likely to be the result of human activity.

Meadow field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants (grassland)

A meadow is an open habitat, or field, vegetated by grass and other non-woody plants. They attract a multitude of wildlife and support flora and fauna that could not thrive in other habitats. They provide areas for courtship displays, nesting, food gathering, pollinating insects, and sometimes sheltering, if the vegetation is high enough, making them ecologically important. There are multiple types of meadows, such as agricultural, transitional, and perpetual, each important to the ecosystem. Meadows may be naturally occurring or artificially created from cleared shrub or woodland.

<i>Juniperus procera</i> species of plant

Juniperus procera is a coniferous tree native to mountainous areas in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It is a characteristic tree of the Afromontane flora.

General habits

The wattled ibis is a gregarious species, often flocking in groups of 30 to 100, but it also can be seen feeding alone or in pairs. It forages in open grasslands, marshes, open alpine moorlands, croplands and forest glades. When feeding it walks about methodologically, probing the ground regularly. It feeds on worms, insect larvae, and small invertebrates; occasionally frogs, snakes and mice. Sometimes it is seen with herds of domestic animals, searching dung for beetles. It roosts singly or in pairs in trees, in groups on rock cliffs, often at sites of breeding colonies. The wattled ibis is predominantly sedentary, undertaking only local, altitudinal movements.

Breeding habits

The wattled ibis usually nests in small to large colonies on rocky cliffs, over bushes hanging in the walls, but it has also been reported to nest singly on top of trees or ledges of buildings. Few colonies are known above 3000 meters, and those in trees at lower elevations (1800 – 2000 m) in Lake Awasa. In the Bale Mountains there are nesting colonies of 500 or more birds. The nest is a platform of branches and sticks, lined with grass and strips of bark; sometimes at high and cold altitudes, they are located to the east for maximum exposure to morning sun. The wattled ibis breeds from March to July; and occasionally in December, during the dry season. It lays two or three rough shelled eggs which are dirty white in color.

Lake Awasa one of the Rift Valley Lakes of Ethiopia

Lake Awasa is an endorheic basin in Ethiopia, located in the Main Ethiopian Rift south of Addis Ababa. According to the Statistical Abstract of Ethiopia for 1967/68, the lake is 16 km long and 9 km wide, with a surface area of 129 square kilometers. It has a maximum depth of 10 meters and is located at an elevation of 1,708 meters.

Bale Mountains

The Bale Mountains, in the Oromia Region of southeast Ethiopia, south of the Awash River, are part of the Ethiopian Highlands. They include Tullu Demtu, the second-highest mountain in Ethiopia, and Mount Batu. The Weyib River, a tributary of the Jubba River, rises in these mountains east of Goba. The Bale Mountains National Park covers 2,200 square kilometers of these mountains. The main attractions of the park are the wild alpine scenery, and the relative ease with which visitors can see unique birds and mammals.

Bird egg

Bird eggs are laid by the females and incubated for a time that varies according to the species; a single young hatches from each egg. Average clutch sizes range from one to about seventeen. Clutch size may vary latitudinally within a species. Some birds lay eggs even when the eggs have not been fertilized; it is not uncommon for pet owners to find their lone bird nesting on a clutch of infertile eggs, which are sometimes called wind-eggs.


No reduction in numbers nor any obvious threat have been reported and the species is often seen within bigger cities like Addis Ababa, not much disturbed by human activity. Therefore, it is not considered to be of conservation concern, since the population is rather large.

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  1. BirdLife International (2016). "Bostrychia carunculata". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2016: e.T22697468A93615297. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  2. Aerts, R.; Lerouge, F.; November, E. (2019). Birds of forests and open woodlands in the highlands of Dogu’a Tembien. In: Nyssen J., Jacob, M., Frankl, A. (Eds.). Geo-trekking in Ethiopia’s Tropical Mountains - The Dogu’a Tembien District. SpringerNature. ISBN   978-3-030-04954-6.
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