Three species of ibis have been recorded in New Zealand, all of which are presumed to have flown from Australia where they are common. Flooding and bush fires are the most likely conditions responsible for this movement to New Zealand. The straw-necked ibis is the rarest of the three species, with only one record to date for Central Otago in 2009. In Australia, straw-necked Ibis are often seen flying in V-formation over parklands, wetlands and fields, where they have adapted well to urban developments. They nest in colonies, often with other wetland bird species.
Straw-necked ibises are medium-sized birds about the size of a heron. They have a long, black down-curved bill. The wings and mantle are dark with a glossy sheen. The neck feathers are white and appear straw-like. The underbelly and tail areas are white. The legs are dull reddish near the top and black lower down, and the head is bare and is also black. They are likely to be confused only with the similarly sized Australian white ibis and the glossy ibis, which differ substantially in their overall colouration. Immature birds are duller in colour and lack the glossy sheen on the wings as well as the feathering on the neck.
Voice: hoarse coughs, grunts at nest site.
Similar species: glossy ibis is smaller, with completely dark plumage, and lacks neck plumes.
Common in Australia, uncommon in Indonesia, winter visitor to southern New Guinea (Trans-fly area). Vagrant to New Zealand and to Norfolk Island.
Farmland, pastures, swamps, wetlands and grasslands.
New Zealand records
Vagrant. One record of a single bird recorded at Tarras, Central Otago during Jan-/Feb 2009.
Colonial nester in reed beds, on trampled vegetation, on islands or on trees overhanging water. The nest is cup-shaped and made of a pile of sticks with some plant lining. Both parents share in nest-building, incubation and feeding of young.
Behaviour and ecology
Usually occurs in flocks in open habitat such as grasslands, parks, fields and irrigation channels where they probe the ground for invertebrates such as grasshoppers, crickets and locusts. Straw-necked ibises breed in colonies, often with other ibis and waterbird species.
A wide variety of foods are eaten including grasshoppers, locusts, lizards, frogs and aquatic insects.
Pizzey, G; Knight, F. 2006.The field guide to the birds of Australia. HarperCollins Publishers, Sydney.
Forsyth, E. 2013. Straw-necked ibis. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online.
- Breeding season
- Egg laying dates