Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-

Common name:

Glossy ibis

Scientific name: Plegadis falcinellus
Date: 10 June 2006
Time: approx. 10:10 - 10:20 am
Length of time observed: approx 10 minutes, on/off
Number: one
Age: adult
Sex: unknown
Location: Cache Valley, in pasture NE of NE corner of sewage treatment ponds.  Approximately 1/3 mile west of intersection of 1000 N & 1000 W
County: Cache
Latilong: ?
Elevation: ?
Distance to bird: ~300-400 feet
Optical equipment: Kowa scope, with 30 x eyepiece, Leica 10x binoculars
Weather: sunny
Light Conditions: Clear.  The light was very strong, but we managed to position ourselves so that the sun was behind us and about 30 degrees to the right, so that the colors were clearly visible.
Description:        Size of bird: Size of the White-faced ibis around it (approx. 1 1/2 feet high).  It seemed at times very slightly taller than the surrounding white-faced ibis, but that might have just been because the WFI around it appeared less active, so were more prone to slouch
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  Ibis shape.  Long, decurved bill on a small head on a long neck, plump body, short tail, long legs.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Chestnut brown with greenish-bronze highlights in wings.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Long, decurved, thin.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird looked very much like the surrounding White-faced ibis, among which it strolled.  However, it jizzed out as different for reasons I am hard put to describe--the brown color of its
head and neck seemed somehow a different shade of brown (lighter?), and the bird seemed very slightly larger (though this may have been an illusion caused by a more upright stance).
The legs were visible in the grazed pasture.  They were pale gray/greenish-straw color with reddish 'knees'.
Bare patch on face between eye and bill was uniform dusky blue, with no sign of purple or red.  There was a pale baby-blue line edging this dusky blue face patch, leading from the upper and lower edges of the bill base to the eyes (but not wrapping behind the eyes).  This pale outline was thinner than the white facial lines on the surrounding White-faced ibises.
Irises were brown (I was surprised how easy it was to see this, and to contrast it to the red irises of the surrounding White-faced ibises.)
The bill was brownish.
Song or call & method of delivery: silent
Behavior: Feeding and walking about in a pasture.  There were about 10 other White-faced ibises in the pasture, loosely clumped into small groups.  The Glossy ibis sometimes stayed with a group of 3 other ibis, and sometimes walked about alone.  As we approached the ibis, they flew off a short distance and we were not able to relocate the Glossy.
Habitat: Pasture with short-cropped grass adjacent to a ditch with very thick marsh vegetation (cattails?).  There was a field with tall grass nearby (which contained more ibis, mostly hidden), as well as sewage treatment ponds just to the SW.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The only other species which might be mistaken for a Glossy ibis in Utah is a White-faced ibis (WFI).  The WFI has dark-reddish legs; reddish irises; reddish bare patch on its face; and white edging to that bare patch which tends to be broader and includes feathers (in some of the WFI we saw, the individual white feathers were visible in that they formed a broken, fuzzy line) that
often extend further out on the face away from the bare skin patch.  The white lines on the WFI extend around the eye.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've only seen the Glossy ibis on one occasion in Mexico.  However, I have seen thousands of White-faced ibis over the years (though few so closely as on this day).
References consulted: The Sibley Guide to Birds, The National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America (2nd & 3rd ed)
Description from: From memory
Observer: David S. Wheeler
Observer's address: 2196 South 1000 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Larene Wyss
Date prepared: 13 Jun 2006
Additional material:  
Additional comments: