Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus


This is a fairly small, all-dark ibis with a decurved bill, long neck, and long legs. The sexes are alike but there are seasonal differences and juvenile is distinguishable on close view. Adult Breeding: Looks black at distance, but neck, upper mantle, shorter scapulars, shoulders, and underparts are rich chestnut. The head, rest of upperparts, wings, and tail blackish glossed with purple and green. The long, thin, evenly downcurved bill is dark olive-brown; bare loral area purplish-black; legs variable from green-brown to dark brown. Adult Non-breeding: The head, throat, and neck blackish-brown streaked with white and the underparts are blackish-brown with a chestnut tinge and some purple gloss. Otherwise as breeding. Juvenile: The juvenile is like adult non-breeding with head and neck browner, sometimes with large white spots on foreneck and crown; the rest of upperparts are duller, glossed green rather than purple, and underparts paler and browner. By 1st autumn, head and neck streaked with white, but less distinctly than adult non-breeding.

Identification difficulty

Generally associated with shallow lakes, rivers, and floods but often roosts in trees far from water.

When to see it

It has been recorded in all months in the UK.

Life History

Feeds by probing in mud and shallows, and will swim for short distances in deeper water. Walks sedately like Spoonbill, more compact than egret, though with neck extended.

UK Status

It was once a rare vagrant to the UK but number have increased in recent years and it has become more common, with exceptional arrivals in 2007-11. It was removed from the list of species considered by the British Birds Rarities Committee in 2013.

VC55 Status

The first record for VC55 was in May 2011 at Rutland Water and it is still considered as a rare vagrant. If the national trend continues it is likely to become more common in the UK, which would probably be reflected in VC55 records.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map