Dryweather-Bird or Farmer's Friend
Length 680 to 750mm. Sexes similar; male with longer bill and female with black band across upper breast. Back and wings black with bronze-green sheen. Head and neck bare and black; upper neck buff with dark mottlings with stiff straw-like feathers on lower neck of both sexes. Breast, belly and tail white. Naked yellow patches under wings and on each side of breast. Eye brown. Bill black and caruncled. Legs red, feet black.
Juvenile: Duller in colour. Straw-like feathers on neck are absent. Head is
feathered downy black-white. Bill shorter and straighter.
The Straw-Necked Ibis is the most abundant and widespread of the Australian Ibises. They can be found over much of Australia but are absent from the harsh midlands of mainland Australia and are located only on the northern coast of Tasmania. They Ibis can be seen in great flocks of up to 200,000 birds when they gather to search for suitable nesting islands and swamp thickets during the beginning of the breeding season, which can be at any time dependent on rain and flooding but mainly in spring and summer. Once a suitable location is found the male collects sticks and the females works them into a large platform nest, sometimes lined with soft leaves. Copulation occurs several times and when the eggs are laid (up to five) the birds incubate in shifts. Interestingly, as the shift changes the birds bow deeply to each other and parents also bow to the chicks before feeding. Incubation is between 20 and 25 days and young fledge in five weeks, although at three weeks chicks have already started to swim, albeit with some difficulty. Young stay with their parents and are fed for another two weeks after fledging. Full maturity is at two years. The Staw-Necked Ibis diet consists of water insects, molluscs, frogs and snakes. Grasshoppers and caterpillars are also taken.
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