Range Tracking

In Search of the Sacred Ibis

A two day old report about a Sacred Ibis being spotted at the West Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility in Indian River County piqued my interest so I set out after work to see if I could find the bird. Here is a small sampling of other wildlife seen on the long hike around the Facility while trying to locate the Sacred Ibis.
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Skittish American Coots make a splashy exit whenever anyone draws too near. They never go very far, though, usually ending up on the other side of the cell they started out in.
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The Coots appear to be running across the water as they try to get airborne.
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Blue-winged Teal accompanied by a Coot come in for a landing.
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Note this Hawk patrolling the artificial wetlands has bands on each leg.
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Great Egret in flight.
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One of many River Otters seen along the trails or in the water.
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The cryptically colored Green Heron.
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Tricolored Heron
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Tricolored Heron in flight.
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A large Soft-shell Turtle along the edge of the trail.
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Sandhill Cranes forage along the trail.
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This is a White Ibis native to Florida.
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I was thinking my long hike around the wetlands was going to be a bust as I headed back to the vehicle when right in front of me I spied the object of my quest — the Sacred Ibis. The bird was standing right in the middle of the trail! My regret is the dark, overcast sky made photography difficult. Alongside the Sacred Ibis is a White Ibis with a very dirty bill.
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At first I thought this native of Africa, once worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, was an unfortunate visitor to our shores, having blown across the ocean from Africa in a storm. Alas, the reality is not so glittering. It appears Florida has a small population of Sacred Ibis that are actively hunted to be captured or killed so they do not establish a breeding population of yet another intrusive invasive species crowding out native birds.
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A native of Africa, it is believed the very small Florida population of Sacred Ibis all escaped from public and private collections in South Florida as a result of the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
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Sadly, this individual’s future looks to be bleak once bureaucracy catches up with it given the effective eradication of Sacred Ibis in South Florida.
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2 comments

  1. Juanita Baker

    Bob
    Such wonderful photos and thanks for tracking the Sacred Ibis and telling something about it! Fabulous that you got a photo with the White Ibis to show size comparisons. Sacred Ibis is huge! Particularly love the Green Heron. Magnificent.

  2. Nancy Soucy

    stunning photography! I feel sorry for the Sacred Ibis, it’s so beautiful and unlike other invasive animals such as the python which tend to make us cringe.

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