Saturday, 25 August 2012

City Life - the Australian White Ibis


The breeding season for the Australian White Ibis, Threskiornis molucca, has started here in Brisbane. Couples are building nests with twigs and small branches, usually not far from water and high on trees like Mangroves, Palms and also thick Bamboo. Some may probably already have eggs or young hatchlings.


Once the jouveniles leave the nest, they are very easily distinguished from the audults, they have a shorter bill and a dark feathery head compared to the bald head and neck of audults. The new generations also have a much whiter colour compared to the 'dirty' white of their parents. 


They have a very strong prehistoric look with their bald, wrinkly and scaly skin of head and neck. During the breeding season some magenta-carmine scales of skin appear at the back of audults' heads, as well as along the legs, their blue-black ornamental tertiary feathers become wider and shinier. They also seem to become more vocal and territorial or competitive, honking at each other very loudly.


They are opportunistic birds and they've adapted very very well to urban and suburban conditions, it looks like they are more common than crows and pigeons in Brisbane, invasive and shameless they often jump on cafe tables and walk among pedestrians across Queen Street Mall. Not very loved by people... but in the end they're just making the best out of what's available, aren't we doing just the same?

An older ink sketch

14 comments:

  1. They certainly sound like characters these birds, a far cry from the colourful lorikeets you painted a while back. They do have a prehistoric look about them, I can't help but admire birds that adapt to urban ways of life, our ways of life which have been forced upon them - they're just making the best of it like you say.

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    1. Yes I agree with you Sharon, I also admire city dwellers, I like their flexibility. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. Nice! Funny bird... with that bald head and that long and curved bill... they remind me to "gonzo" (muppets)
    People don't usually like birds in the city... We humans think that everything belong us, but we are only one more specie in the earth...

    Congratulations for your fantastic job!

    Miguel

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    1. Thank you very much for your comment Miguel.

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  3. I enjoyed your illustrations and description of the ibis. It must be a strange sight to see a bird of that size making itself at home in city areas, but why not!

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  4. Hello Matteo:) I wish I could draw so beautiful birds. The smallest detail is still visible. Very beautiful and interesting!

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  5. Absolutely stunning Matteo! I love your attention to detail. :)

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  6. Beautiful work Matteo! "More common than pigeons" -- that sounds like a good thing!! Am I right in thinking that in Victoria we see more straw neck ibis?

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  7. Thank you everybody for you nice messages, yes Anne, I guess Straw-necked Ibises are more common in Victoria than here, we don't see many of them in Brisbane, just a few single individuals or pairs.

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  8. A wonderfully observed bird, all your sketches and details make an interesting page. I enjoyed seeing your materials and open sketch book, size of your drawings and the dabs of paint on the spare paper. Your work is always lovely to see.

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  9. Thank you very much Lopez and Milly!

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  10. Is this available to purchase as a print?

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