Who would have thought that a White-faced Ibis would show up in little ole' Seminole County? A few get seen in Florida every winter, and sometimes within an hour's drive of my house, but I've never actually chased any of the sightings. This is partly because of the timing (sometimes I'm just unable to get away), and partly because my color blindness. The differences between a White-faced Ibis and a Glossy Ibis can be so subtle that I've doubted that I would ever be able to be certain I found the right bird. Generally speaking, unless it is in breeding plumage, to ID a White-faced Ibis, you need to see its red eye and grey bill, since a Glossy Ibis has a dark eye with a brown bill. I figured I'd never be able to see the differences with red-green colorblindness. But a friend of mine found a young White-faced Ibis about 15 minutes from my home. It's a first year bird, but it has a bright red eye, grey bill, thick white streaking on the head (a good indicator in young birds that I can see!) And to my surprise, when the light hits this bird's eye right, I can actually see it as red (but the brown v. grey bill difference is lost on me). So maybe there's hope for me after all.
A close up crop that shows a red eye that I can see. People tell me the bill is grey and the fleshy area
in front of the eye is pinkish, but I'm just taking their word for it. However, I can see the heavy white
streaking on its head, so hopefully that will tip me off to look closely at the eye in future sightings.
Just in case you're not familiar with both species, here's a photograph of a Glossy Ibis so that you can compare the two. I suspect to you, the red v. dark brown eye distinction will be very clear. For me, it takes some work, but at least I can see it.
Notice thinner streaking on the head, dark eye, and blue edges to the facial area
And in South Texas, we get excited by seeing glossy ibis. I was on the Christmas Count at Brazos Bend State Park, southwest of Houston, when we found two of them. Brown eyes and blue skin is what I look for. Often takes a scope and the right light to see it. Both of them are indeed beautiful birds.ReplyDelete