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Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) - tracking programPrintable Version

Birds in Backyards

(images courtesy ABBBS / Australian Museum)

In Margaret Mittelbach & Michael Crewdson's popular novel, Carnivorous Nights - a story about coming to Australia to search for the thylacine - the Australian White Ibis is one of the first of our unusual creatures to leave an impression on the authors.

Sydney locals and visitors alike will both be familiar with the Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca). These large white birds with enormous curved beaks catch the attention of any observer as they walk through our parks, pick up food scraps and roost in a rather ungainly manner in the large Moreton Bay fig trees.

Elsewhere I have made mention of the Australian Museum's Birds in Backyards project - where locals around the country can survey their local bird populations, with particular attention to how birds use the local landscape.

The Australian White Ibis is one bird in particular, which the project is studying closely.

You can help
If you see the Australian White Ibis in your area, please take note of whether any of the birds have coloured bands attached to their legs.

In a nutshell, the most useful information would be to record the colour of the single band above the right knee, the colour of both (two) bands on the left ankle, and the date and location of the sighting. (You can ignore the silver band on the right ankle).

If the bird has coloured bands on its legs, please send the information directly through to John Martin (information below). Please also let me know - but remember to tell me you've already forwarded the information on to John.

If the bird does not have coloured bands on its legs, please send the information through to me only, and confirm you haven't sent it through to John. I will aggregate the data received and send through the results in one go.

Be sure to click on the image in this article to see the full-sized example of all the colour-combinations possible.

From the information brochure:

"Australian White Ibis are, as the name suggests, a native species. White ibis were uncommon within the Sydney region thirty years ago and were generally seen in small numbers (less than 10)
feeding in and around wetlands. Over the last thirty years their numbers have increased across Sydney, so much so that in December 2003 a Sydney wide count recorded 6000 ibis (NSW NPWS). Unfortunately, this increase has seen white ibis be branded as a ‘pest’ species.

In response to the white ibis management issue, research is currently under way that involves banding white ibis within the Sydney basin, aiming to monitor movement, habitat preferences and survival. All banded ibis (see photo example) have been fitted with a metal Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS) band, which is individually numbered (right ankle). Additionally, birds are fitted with a site-specific master colour band (e.g. blue – right knee),
which allows the banding location of a bird to be easily determined in the field. Lastly, each ibis is banded with two colour bands (e.g., pink/pink – left ankle), that allows easy identification of individual birds without having to read the numbers on the metal ABBBS
band. There are eleven colours (pictured from left to right): red, orange, pink, light blue, blue, pale green, yellow, green, white, black and purple.

Please report all observations of banded white ibis to the ABBBS
(www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/science/abbbs/). The critical information to record is the site
master colour and the two individual colours (e.g. blue, pink/pink), or the number on the
metal band (e.g. 121 54321). Partial observations are still valuable, so please report these to
John Martin (9339 6678, john DOT martin AT cp DOT nsw DOT gov DOT au).

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