Sacred ibis

Threskiornis aethiopicus

The sacred ibis lives throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Iraq. A living hieroglyphic, this species was venerated and often mummified by ancient Egyptians. Ibis mummies have been discovered buried alongside pharaohs.

Sacred Ibis behavior and facts

  • The sacred ibis forages during the day in groups of 2-20 birds and occasionally in flocks of 100-300.
  • They mainly inhabit the margins of inland freshwater wetlands, sewage works, saltpans, marshes and rivers in open forest.
  • The diet of the sacred ibis consists mainly of insects, but it will also eat crustaceans, worms, small reptiles, crocodile and pelican eggs and carrion.
  • The sacred ibis is an intra-African migrant, traveling hundreds of miles within the continent to breed during the rainy season.
  • During breeding season, large groups of male sacred ibis select a place to settle and form pairing territories.
  • The nest of the sacred ibis is a large platform of sticks and branches built in trees or placed on rocky ground.
  • The sacred ibis is considered an invasive species in Florida, France, Italy and Spain, where escaped or introduced birds have established breeding colonies. Outside of their native range, sacred ibis pose potential threats to native birds by preying on their eggs.

From birth to death

  • Sacred ibis breed in colonies once a year from March to August in Africa and from April to May in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeastern Iraq.
  • Both male and the female sacred ibis incubate their eggs for about 28 days.
  • Young leave the nest after 2-3 weeks and continue to be fed by their parents.
  • After a fledging period of 35-40 days, young sacred ibis leave the colony.

Vital statistics

  • Sacred ibis weigh about 3 pounds.
  • They have a wingspan of 44-48 inches


IUCN Least concern

Sacred ibis, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo's sacred ibis live in the Africa Rainforest Aviary.