Birds – Scarlet Ibis

Beyond doubt the most beautiful of all the Ibises is the magnificent Scarlet Ibis (Guara Rubra) of the eastern coasts of tropical America, whence it ranges north casually, or once did, to Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, though Mr. Ridgway doubts if any of the United States records are valid. It is from twenty-eight to thirty inches in length and is a uniform, pure, intense scarlet, except the tips of the longer wing-quills, which are a glossy blue-black. Mr. Ridgway says : ” The scarlet color of this splendid bird is probably not exceeded in purity and intensity. It is, in fact, the very perfection of that color. It far surpasses the red of any Passerine bird known to us, even the plumage of the Scarlet Tanager appearing dull and harsh beside it.” The Scarlet Ibis is an exceedingly rare bird in the United States and it is very doubtful if it ever nested there. It is, or was once, a not uncommon visitor to Jamaica and Trinidad, where it perhaps bred, but hardly does so now. In British Guiana and on the Rio Negro it is said to be abundant, but its brilliant plumage is so much sought after that it yearly decreases in numbers and may soon become totally extinct. It is said to frequent river banks and swampy places and to feed on worms, soft mollusks, and, perhaps rarely, fishes. The eggs, two and ten hundredths by one and forty-five hundredths inches, are grayish white, thinly marked with small blotches of light brown.