Ibis – White and Glossy Comparison


Two of the three Ibis species in North America are seen in Florida, the White Ibis and the Glossy Ibis.

Many times the common White Ibis roam in small flocks and can be very easy to find, including residential communities.


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White Ibis (adults)


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White Ibis (adult) in a strand


During their first winter, a White Ibis is actually brown above and white below with a streaky brown neck.  As they molt into adult plumage, immatures (first summer birds) are splotchy brown and white above as they molt into their white adult plumage.


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Lone White Ibis (juvenile) visiting our campsite


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White Ibis (immature molting into adult plumage)


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White Ibis (adult)


Not too easy a sighting is the Glossy Ibis, let alone finding several together at a time.  And it is the one of these two Ibis that birders get excited on finding.  They are very skittish and remain in hiding most of the time in remote locations.


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Glossy Ibis


The plumage appears dark, almost blackish, at a distance or in poor light.


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Glossy Ibis


At close range and with the lighting hitting just right, you’ll find much of the body is maroonish, with the wing coverts showing metallic green, bronze, and violet tones.  During breeding season, all these colors become much more vibrant.


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Glossy Ibis


The next shot was definitely a right place right time moment for me and two other bird photographers when it came around the mangroves and in front of us 100′ away.  As soon as it saw us, the Glossy Ibis quickly disappeared back into the mangrove root thicket out of sight for good.


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Glossy Ibis


I couldn’t wait to check the series of that last shot to see if I lucked out and didn’t mess up a sweet encounter!



49 thoughts on “Ibis – White and Glossy Comparison

  1. Lovely birds, and great comparison. I’ve seen neither of these two, but have seen the White-faced many times. They’re similar to the Glossy ones. What an exciting sighting for you to see the Glossy! You nailed the image. โญ๐Ÿ˜

  2. Beautiful series of images Donna! We miss going to Florida this year because of COVID-19. The last few years we went there in January for our favorite places to photograph.So we are seeing Florida birds through your images! Thanks again!

    • Thank you so much, Reed! I’m sorry you couldn’t make it this month, but very happy to share mine with you. It’s been easy for me to be away from people in the areas I’ve been checking out, which has been very nice and safe feeling. And having our RV allows us to have our own turf. I wouldn’t want to be staying in hotels, etc, either. Not yet.

  3. Every time that I visit Florida, I look for these guys. I like to see them, also to shoot photos of them.
    They are so numerous, especially the American White Ibis. Beautiful shots, Donna. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ‘

  4. Great capture on the glossy ibis, Donna. I love their iridescent plumage. Last trip to FL, I was lucky to see a good-sized flock of them winging their way home at dusk.

  5. I have some images of the glossies caught in great light light and they are amazing! Very colourful. I see a bit of that in your last two images. The white ones with that pink and blue is nothing to be sneezed at. What an adventure to be where you are in such a birding haven!

    • Thank you, Jane! I bet your images of the Glossy are awesome, you probably captured them in breeding plumage when the colors get very vibrant. They’ll be getting that plumage in the next month or so here, I hope I get to see one before we leave to head back home. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. It’s amazing that two are so different – with the white being apparently so at home in the town and the other so elusive. But great shots of both – and especially the last one of course!

    • Thank you, Mike! Yep, the White Ibis will walk right on by you if you don’t intimidate them. I thought it’d be cool to share their differences. (And it helps me share more photos ๐Ÿ˜…)

    • Thank you, Hans! I have a difficult time with some bird juveniles (especially little ones!) because they do look so different than their adult plumage. Then throw in breeding and non-breeding….it’s always fun with birds!!

  7. It is very special that these ibises reach the inhabited areas. This of course gives the necessary opportunities to follow them closely. Beautiful pictures!

    • Thank you, Rudi! Habitats are so very important, and birds are smart to learn to re-adapt when necessary. But we need to make sure we leave habitats in place for their future. I love how the White Ibis have adapted well! As a plus, they are great lawn aerators! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. What a wonderful set of pictures, Donna! The juvenile white ibis exploring your campsite is very endearing. And I love the close-up of the glossy ibis. Do you have a well illustrated field guide you use (and would recommend) to learn about the different plumages at different ages?

    • Thank you, Barbara! My favorite bird ID books are the “The Crossley Guide” books by Richard Crossley. I have his “Eastern Birds” and “Raptors” ID books. He also published “The Shorebird Guide” which I also have and use. Lots of photos for most birds with changes of their plumage. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • You can buy the books just about anywhere, but if you order from the author’s website, http://www.crossleybooks.com, the author will sign your book(s) and you get a free Waterfowl Pocket Guide (I have that too). He will soon be releasing his “Western Birds”.

          I have a few other books too, another one you might also be interested in is “Gulls Simplified” by Peter Dunne and Kevin Karlson. Lots of photos too! ๐Ÿ™‚

          • I had โ€œGulls Simplifiedโ€ on my Christmas wish list but no luck so far. Since you recommend it I might just have to start getting some guides for myself. Years ago I bought a gull guide but it wasn’t organized very well and it made me hesitant to invest in another one.

            Thanks for the tip about getting a signed one from Crossley! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, Ellen! As long as they continue to roam like they do and not stay in one spot, the White Ibis are great, free lawn aerators! I love watching them needle-punch the grass over and over like a sewing machine. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. All these wonderfully beautiful Ibis are so familiar because similar ones
    hang out around and near the pond close by. Your photos allow us
    all a fabulous view of them. Thank you so much Donna

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