Imagine Feeding Your Young by Regurgitation

This past weekend I was lucky enough to go to one of my favorite places to shoot, Cypress Wetlands in Port Royal, SC.  Cypress Wetlands is a protected wetlands area with a boardwalk and serves as a rookery for many birds.  This time of year the White Ibis were feeding their young and I was able to capture some great photos of them in action. Both the male and the female feed the young by regurgitation (yuck). In the photos you can see the adult ibis practically swallowing the young bird for it to feed. Parents feed the young for 1-2 months after they leave the nest, until the young bird can forage on its own. It seems to take the juveniles awhile to learn the finer points of foraging and flying. This was very clear while watching the little ones trying to balance carefully on the limbs. The young birds in these photos are less than 2 months old as they clearly have not learned these skills as of yet. The young bird clamor continuously for their parents to feed them.

Adult Ibis Regurgitating to feed young


Young Ibis Hanging on to feed


Young Ibis Clamoring for Food

The White Ibis is a long legged wetland bird with a long curved bill. Adults are white with bright reddish pink legs and bill. The area around their glassy blue eye is also the same reddish pink color. In flight you can see the adults have black on the tips of their wings. The younger birds are patchy white and brown with more of a pink colored bill and legs.

In the photo below you can see the signature black wing tips of the 2 adults in the back and the mottled white and brown body of the maturing juvenile in front.

Flight of the Ibis

These very social birds congregate together in wetland areas, foraging in shallow water for insects and crustaceans. Oftentimes you can see hundreds of birds together in one area. In fact a group of Ibises is often referred to as a "congregation."

The Congregation

While the ibis do not annually migrate, they roam widely within their range (Florida, coastal area of southeastern US, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. They are resilient birds that are now frequently seen in more urban areas when there are fluctuations between wet seasons and drought. In this article from the  Audubon Dispatch, This Iconic Bird of the Everglades Is Moving to the ‘Burbs, you can find some great information about scientists studying their resiliency and how they are a great indicator species for the health of the Everglades. 

All information included in this blog post was referenced from Audubon and All About Birds.

All photos are my original work Pam DeChellis Wildlife Photography.