Starstruck – Glossy Ibis Sighting in Chatham

I had my first sighting yesterday of a glorious new bird that has now utterly captured my imagination.

I was up on what I call “Osprey Hill” photographing fledgling ospreys as they practiced their aerial maneuvers near one of the nests.

Just as I was leaving the Hill I spotted a nice group of Snowies and Great Egrets out in the tidal pools below, fishing.

But there was something different about this group – a much darker wading bird was among them!


Later on I discovered that I had just seen my very first Glossy Ibis!

But it was about to get so much better.

I also came upon a lovely pair of them when I was heading back to my car at Forest Beach marsh.


Glossy Ibises are a large bird, measuring anywhere from 19-26 inches with distinctive football-shaped bodies and long, curved olive-brown bills.

Their scientific name, Plegadis falcinellus, is derived from the Ancient Green and Latin words meaning “sickle”, which is certainly easy to understand why!


And although they appear black in the distance or in shadows, their bodies are actually a deep chestnut color with iridescent green-purple-metallic wings and tail, reddish-brown neck, brown legs and feet.

These were backlit when I saw them, but I could see flashes of color as I clicked away madly on my camera.


Using their long curved bills which are perfectly suited to the task, they probe the muddy, shallow waters of salt marshes to find crayfish, snails, small fish, insects and frogs.


Those on Atlantic Coast live mainly in Florida and Louisiana, however I’ve learned that they sometimes breed here on Monomoy Island and are occasional visitors in spring and late summer in our mainland salt marshes as well.

I couldn’t help but notice that one of our resident crows was none too happy to pose with these statuesque dark birds.


How I do love our little rascal photo bombers, always mugging for the camera!  😉


I sure hope I get another chance to visit with these birds before they fly south for the winter months.

But one thing’s for certain.

There’s but one word to describe how I feel right now, and that is SWOON…


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