White Ibis in breeding and nonbreeding plumage

/, Florida, Fort De Soto County Park, White Ibises/White Ibis in breeding and nonbreeding plumage

White Ibis adult in nonbreeding plumageWhite Ibis adult in nonbreeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f9, 1/400, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 340mm, natural light

There isn’t much of a change between the plumage in breeding and nonbreeding White Ibis, primarily the differences are in the legs, bill and lores. The bill, legs and lores of a nonbreeding White Ibis is a salmon color. In some light they almost look a bubble gum pink.

White Ibis adult in breeding plumageWhite Ibis adult in breeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 145mm, natural light

In breeding plumage the legs, lores and bill become a bright red or geranium color and the lower part of the bill becomes dark which can extend two thirds of the way up the bill.

The feathers remain white and the eyes remain sky blue regardless of the plumage phase the adult White Ibis are in.

Both of these White Ibis were photographed at Fort De Soto County Park as they foraged in the Gulf of Mexico, the ibis in breeding plumage was photographed in early April and the nonbreeding ibis was photographed in mid June.



  1. Lois Bryan November 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    so beautiful … can’t tell you how much I enjoy viewing your wildlife images!!!!!

  2. Kim November 24, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    We have three kinds of ibis here but not this one. The birds look amazing in both images, but I particularly love the way the wave is breaking around the feet of the non-breeding bird.

  3. Utahbooklover November 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Very informative post. I really like the second image with everything in focus — feels like I’m there!

  4. Elephant's Child November 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Simply gorgeous. And, I would think, irresistible.

  5. Bryce November 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I find it incredible how intensely colored the fleshy parts are in breeding plumage. Great post Mia!

  6. Patty Chadwick November 24, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I used to think they were different species…didn’t realize that colors changed with breeding seasons.

  7. Bob Bushell November 24, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Beautifully photographed Mia.

  8. Dan O De Ment November 24, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Great work!

  9. Wally November 24, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Mia, superb portraits! I love encountering flocks of White Ibis where there are birds in breeding plumage, non-breeding plumage and immature birds. Seems like your seeing multiple species!

  10. Sonja Ross November 24, 2013 at 5:44 am

    It’s interesting to see as well as read about the plumage changes.

  11. Montanagirl November 24, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I have never seen a White Ibis. Very pretty bird, and I like the blue eye.

  12. eileen November 24, 2013 at 5:33 am

    Mia, beautiful shots of the White Ibis! The bill and legs really stand out! Have a happy day!

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