Unlike other ibises in the region it is not very dependent on water and is often found in dry fields a good distance away from water. It is usually seen in loose groups and can be told by the nearly all dark body with a white patch on the shoulder and a bare dark head with a patch of crimson red warty skin on the crown and nape. It has a loud call and is noisy when breeding. It builds its nest most often on the top of a large tree or palm.
Structure of Red-naped ibis
Red-naped ibis is a large black bird with long legs and a long down curved bill. The wing feathers and tail are black with blue-green gloss while the neck and body are brown and without gloss. A white patch on the shoulders stands out and the top of the featherless head is a patch of bright red warty skin. The warty patch, technically a caruncle, is a triangular patch with the apex at the crown and the base of the triangle behind the nape that develops in adult birds. The iris is orange red. Both sexes are identical and young birds are browner and initially lack the bare head and crown.
Bills of Red-naped ibis
The bills and legs of Red-naped ibis are grey but turn reddish during the breeding season. The toes have a fringing membrane and are slightly webbed at the base. They are usually silent but call at dawn and dusk and more often when nesting. The calls are a series of loud braying, squealing screams that descend in loudness. This species can be confused with the glossy ibis when seen at a distance but the glossy ibis is smaller, more gregarious, associated with wetlands and lacks the white on the wing and has a fully feathered head.
Taxomony of Red-naped ibis
Red-naped ibis was first given its scientific name by Temminck in 1824. He placed it in the genus Ibis but it was separated into the genus Inocotis created by Reichenbach and this was followed by several major works including the Fauna of British India although the genus Pseudibis in which Hodgson had placed the species had precedence based on the principle of priority.
Distribution of Red-naped ibis
Red-naped ibis is widely distributed in the plains of the Indian Subcontinent. The habitats Red-naped ibis is found at is lakes, marshes, riverbeds and on irrigated farmlands. It is gregarious and generally forages on margins of wetlands in small numbers. It is a common breeding resident in Haryana and Punjab and the Gangetic plain. It extends into southern India but is not found in the forested regions or the arid zone of the extreme southeast of the peninsula or Sri Lanka
Feedings of Red-naped ibis
Red-naped ibis is omnivorous, feeding on carrion, insects, frogs, and other small vertebrates as well as grain. They forage mainly in dry open land and stubbly fields, sometimes joining egrets and other birds on land being tilled to feed on disturbed insects and exposed beetle grub. They walk and probe on the ground. The rarely wade in water but have been observed seeking out frogs hiding in crab holes. They sometimes feed at garbage dumps. In the colonial India, indigo planters considered them useful as they appeared to consume a large number of crickets in the fields.
Nests of Red-naped ibis
Red-naped ibises usually nest individually and not in mixed species heronries. They very rarely form small colonies consisting of 3-5 pairs in the same tree. The breeding season is variable. They breed between March and October. The nests are mainly large stick platforms that are 35-60 centimetres in diameter and about 10-15 centimetres deep.
Eggs of Red-naped ibis
The eggs of Red-naped ibis are 2-4 in number and pale bluish green in colour. They are sparsely flecked and have pale reddish blotches. Both male and female red-naped ibis incubate the eggs which hatch after 33 days.
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