White-Faced Ibis

Plegadis chihi
Range Map

Though this bird is not closely related, it has the look of a rail. Where true rails are secretive, ibises are gregarious. We often find them gathered in large groups. The northern population of White-Faced Ibis is migratory and breeds in western USA north into Idaho and Montana. This population will spend winters in Southwestern USA and Mexico.

There is also a South American population resident across the southeastern sections of that continent. Despite the isolation of the two groups, science views the White-Faced Ibis as monotypic, meaning there are no recognised subspecies.

It’s easy to confuse the White-Faced Ibis with the Glossy Ibis. Variations in lighting can prism differing coloration from their feathers. While it may be difficult to see, the White-Faced Ibis has reddish eyes, where the Glossy Ibis has dark, brownish eyes.

I’ve met the White-Faced Ibis in a wide range of locations throughout the western USA and on the Gulf Coast of Texas. A special memory for me was meeting these birds on an island (Isla Clarion), 600 miles off the coast of Colima (Mexico).

Despite their wide range and the separation between the South American and North American populations, science considers the White-Faced Ibis as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

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