Ibis nippon Temminck, 1835, Japan. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Japanese crested ibis, crested ibis; French: Ibis nippon; German: Nipponibis; Spanish: Ibis Nipуn.
22–31 in (56–79 cm); 2.2 lbs (1,000 g). Mostly white, this ibis has orange-brown flight and tail feathers, a bare, orange-red face, and a crest of long, white feathers extending backward from the head. Legs are orange-red.
Before the twentieth century, this species bred in large areas of eastern China and Japan, and existed in Korea until the 1940s. Today, the remaining birds live in a reserve in southern Shaanxi, a province in east-central China.
Forested hills and adjoining wetlands, rice paddies, lakes, and ponds.
The Japanese ibis does not migrate. The known birds only travel from their breeding ground to foraging areas and back.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Frogs, newts, fish, crustaceans, and insects.
Breeding takes place in a colonial setting. The nest is a simple platform of sticks built in a tree. Three eggs are normally laid.
Endangered and on the edge of extinction, with a total of 48 individuals recorded in 2001. In recent years, the sole wild colony has never totaled higher than 22 birds, although an average of five fledglings per year was recorded over the last decade. One bird per year is taken from the wild to add to a captive breeding project in the Beijing Zoo, where several birds have been hatched and raised successfully. Hunting (once widespread, although now illegal), habitat destruction, and pesticides are blamed for the species’ decline.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Revered as a Japanese national symbol. When only two were left in Japan, in 1994, a pair was brought from China for breeding, but the attempt was unsuccessful. The last Japanese ibis in Japan died in 1995 at the estimated age of 26.
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