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Ibis facts for kids

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Ibis
Black Ibis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Subfamily: Threskiornithinae
Poche, 1904
Genera
  • Threskiornis
  • Pseudibis
  • Thaumatibis
  • Geronticus
  • Nipponia
  • Bostrychia
  • Theristicus
  • Cercibis
  • Mesembrinibis
  • Phimosus
  • Eudocimus
  • Plegadis
  • Lophotibis

The ibises (collective plural ibis; classical plurals ibides and ibes) are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae.

They all have long down curved bills, and usually feed as a group, probing mud for food items, usually crustaceans. Most species nest in trees, often with spoonbills or herons.

The word ibis comes from Greek and Latin, and probably from the Ancient Egyptian. According to Josephus, Moses employed ibes against serpents during a desert campaign into Ethiopia in his early life. Pliny the Elder also recounted, “The Egyptians invoked ibes against the serpents".

In culture

The African sacred ibis was an object of religious veneration in ancient Egypt, particularly associated with the deity Djehuty or otherwise commonly referred to in Greek as Thoth. He is responsible for writing, mathematics, measurement and time as well as the moon and magic. In artworks of the Late Period of Ancient Egypt, Thoth is popularly depicted as an ibis-headed man in the act of writing.

At the town of Hermopolis, ibises were reared specifically for sacrificial purposes and in the serapeum at Saqqara, archaeologists found the mummies of one and a half million ibises and hundreds of thousands of falcons.

According to local legend in the Birecik area, the northern bald ibis was one of the first birds that Noah released from the Ark as a symbol of fertility, and a lingering religious sentiment in Turkey helped the colonies there to survive long after the demise of the species in Europe.

The mascot of the University of Miami is an American white ibis named Sebastian. The ibis was selected as the school mascot because of its legendary bravery during hurricanes. According to legend, the ibis is the last sign of wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane hits and the first to reappear once the storm has passed.

Harvard University's humor magazine, Harvard Lampoon, uses the ibis as its symbol. A copper statue of an ibis is prominently displayed on the roof of the Harvard Lampoon Building at 44 Bow Street. UNSW also uses the black-headed ibis as a mascot, as they frequent the main campus.

A short story "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst uses the sable-hued bird as foreshadowing for a character's death and as the primary symbol.

The African sacred ibis is the unit symbol of the Israeli Special Forces unit known as Unit 212 or Maglan (Hebrew מגלן).

According to Josephus, Moses used the ibis to help him defeat the Ethiopians.

In Australia the Australian white ibis are sometimes called "bin chickens" due to their habit of going through the trash in urban areas.

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