Glossy Ibis: Catch of the Day

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator 

Today while leading a program at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, we watched a flock of Glossy Ibis feeding in the Shearness Pool impoundment.  The school children loved seeing these “cool” birds up close.   One of the quick photos I took showed how the ibis bill is used to grab its prey like a long pair of tweezers (or forceps if you prefer another medical instrument reference).  

A Glossy Ibis uses its long de-curved beak to grab a mud-covered Killifish at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Image by Derek Stoner, May 31, 2011.


Glossy Ibis are one of the more spectacular birds to visit Delaware, arriving in April and usually departing by September.  The incredible iridescent feathers on the ibis’ body give it the “glossy” name, and its unique long and de-curved bill places it in the Ibis family.  Glossy Ibis feed in flocks in wet fields, marshes, and other muddy environments, using their specialized bill to probe for snails, worms, shrimp, fish, and other small aquatic prey.

Now is a great time to visit Bombay Hook to witness a variety of wetland-loving birds:  shorebirds, herons and egrets, and even Bald Eagles.  We saw eight eagles today, and over the weekend there were 23 eagles seen at once!     

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