Wattled ibis (Bostrychia carunculata) in Ethiopia

WATTLED IBIS (Bostrychia carunculata) is a species of bird in the Threskiornithidae family. It is endemic to Abyssinian higlands and is found only in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Wattled ibis is a gregarious species, often flocking in groups of 30 to 100, but it can be seen feeding alone or as pairs, as well. It roosts singly or in pairs in trees, in groups on rock cliffs, often at sites of breeding colonies. Wattled ibis is predominantly sedentary, undertaking only local, altitudinal movements.
Figure 1. White shoulder patches are typical to Wattled ibis.

DESCRIPTION. Watted ibis is a large, dark ibis with white shoulder patches. Thin wattle is hanging from the broad bill base. These two features, and no white line on cheek, distinguish this ibis from the close relative Hadada ibis (Bostrychia hagedash). Wattled ibis has also white eye. The average length is 60 cm.

RANGE AND ABUNDANCE. Wattled ibis occurs all over Ethiopian highlands at altitude range of 1500 m to highest moorlands of 4100 m. It has also been recorded from the coast of Eritrea. Wattled ibis is common to abundant, and in the IUCN classification it belongs to category Least Concern.
HABITAT. Wattled ibis 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. It has also become adapted to to anthropic landscapes and conditions. During rainy season it can be seen for instance in the lawns of hotel Ghion, in downtown of Addis Ababa.
FEED. Wattled ibis forages on open grasslands, marshes, open alpine moorlands, croplands and forest glades. When feeding it walks about methodologically, probing the ground regularly. It feeds with worms, insect larvae, and small invertebrates; occationally frogs, snakes and mice. Sometimes it is seen with herds of domestic animals, searchind dung for beetles.
BREEDING AND NESTING. Wattled ibis usually nests in small to large colonies on rocky cliffs, over bushes hanging in the walls, but it has been reported to nest also singly on top of trees or ledges of buildings. Few colonies are known above 3000 m, and those in trees at lower elevations (1800 – 2000 m) in Lake Awassa. In Bale mountains there are nesting colonies of 500 birds, or more. Nest is a platform of branches and sticks, lined with grass and stripes of bark; sometimes at high and cold altitudes located to east for maximum exposure to morning sun. Wattled ibis breeds along a broad period: from March to July; occationally in December, during the dry season. It lays 2-3 rough shelled, dirty white eggs.
original text 2.8.2009, updated 14.12.2009