Threskiornithidae

views updated

Threskiornithidae (ibises, spoonbills; class Aves, order Ciconiiformes) A family of medium to large birds which have white, grey-brown, or greenish-black plumage. Their bills are either long, slender, and decurved, or (in spoonbills) long and flattened, with a spatulate tip. Their necks and wings are long and tails short. Their legs are long with long, basally webbed toes. They are gregarious, inhabit shores and marshes, feed on fish, crustaceans, reptiles, and insects, and nest in trees or on the ground. The three species of Threskiornis (ibises), found in Africa, Asia, Indonesia, and Australia, are all similar: large, white birds with black, decurved bills and bare, black skin on the head and neck. Spoonbills (five species of Platalea) feed on fish and aquatic invertebrates caught by sweeping the bill from side to side; they are gregarious, inhabit fresh-water areas, and nest colonially in bushes and trees. There are about 19 genera in the family, with 32 species, found nearly world-wide.

About this article

Threskiornithidae

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article