Australian White Ibis

Australian White Ibis
The Australian White Ibis is a native Australian bird which can be found all across our local government area. The Australian White Ibis is a native Australian bird which can be found all across our local government area.

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Australian White Ibis, Threskiornis molucca, is a native Australian bird which can be found all across our local government area. These birds are protected under section 98 of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. 
The Australian White Ibis is identified by its almost entirely white body plumage and black head and neck. The head is featherless and its black bill is long and down-curved. During the breeding season the small patch of skin on the under-surface of the wing changes from dull pink to dark scarlet.
Many waterbirds including Ibis travel great distances in search of suitable freshwater wetlands and estuaries. Preferred habitats include swamps, lagoons and floodplains. The main traditional breeding locations are in central and northern NSW and include the Macquarie Marshes and Gwydir Wetlands. 
Land clearing, overgrazing of marshlands and prolonged drought have caused the collapse of traditional breeding areas for many NSW waterbirds. With loss of natural inland wetlands many birds have moved to places where water and food are available and more predictable. 
Ibis have become successful inhabitants of urban parks and gardens and are now part of the urban environment. Since the 1980’s there have been increases at locations along the eastern coast. In Sydney Ibis have established breeding colonies in the Royal Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, at Lake Gillawarna, Cabramatta Creek and Mount Annan.
The main reasons Ibis are attracted to urban areas include: 
  • Ready supply of food sources including landfill sites and human litter; 
  • Easy access to fresh water, including artificial wetlands and lakes; 
  • Availability of suitable nesting and roosting trees in parklands; 
  • Few natural predators; and 
  • Intentional feeding by people.
Naturally Ibis eat terrestrial (land) and aquatic (water) invertebrates. The most favoured foods are crayfish and mussels, which the bird obtains by digging with its long bill. Mussels are opened by hammering them on a hard surface to reveal the soft body inside. In urban areas Ibis are also seen foraging for food scraps discarded by people. The success of Ibis in urban areas is largely due to easy availability of urban landfills for food. They can easily cover the distances between landfills and breeding locations each day.

What is Council doing? 

​Council is very limited in its ability to intervene with the breeding of Ibis. The Australian White Ibis are a protected native species – mass removal or eradication of the birds is not permitted. 
Council has consulted with members of the community and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to develop a plan for the management of Ibis. The aim of the plan is to promote a better ecological balance and reduce the impacts of Ibis on the surrounding residents, park users and other species. The plan consists of a number of prioritised actions including habitat modification, nest and egg removal, monitoring and community education. 
Monitoring is vital to the success of any management plan and will help increase our knowledge of the Ibis. Numbers have fluctuated over the past few years but have never reached the high numbers seen in 2003 & 2004. 
Successfully managing Ibis will require a persistent, long-term and adaptive approach. Council is committed to achieving the most sustainable outcome for the local natural environment, community and local residents.
Council regularly surveys Ibis breeding and roosting locations to monitor their impact. When necessary, Council undertakes actions to mitigate Ibis impacts.​

What can you do? 

There are a few things that you can do to help us manage the ibis. The most important is to not feed birds (even if the food is not intended for the ibis). Feeding birds is harmful to them and encourages antisocial behaviours, increasing the risk that they will bite you in an attempt to get more food. Littering is a great food source for the ibis. Please ensure that all litter and food scrap are disposed of properly and that bin lids are closed. You can also encourage other native wildlife into your garden by planting native plants. 

More information

To find out more, go to our Habitat Stepping Stones​ webpage.

Cont​act

For more information, contact Council's Customer Service Centre on 9707 9000.