The Australian white ibis is a large wading bird native to Australia. It has a predominantly white plumage with a bare, black head, long downcurved bill, and black legs. Due to its increasing presence in the urban environment and its habit of rummaging in garbage, the Australian white ibis has acquired a variety of colloquial names such as "tip turkey" and "bin chicken", and in recent years has become an icon of Australia's popular culture, regarded with glee by some and passionate revulsion by others.
Australian white ibises are widespread in eastern, northern and south-western Australia. Most adult birds are sedentary but populations that live in south-western Australia are partially migratory. Australian white ibises inhabit lagoons, estuaries, marshy wetlands, often near open grasslands and have become common in city parks, gardens and rubbish dumps in the urban areas.
Australian white ibises can be seen singly, however, they are social birds; they often roost in trees with other birds like spoonbills or herons, and breed in colonies. Australian white ibises are active during the day and feed by walking and wading along the shore probing for food. The most favored foods such as crayfish and mussels ibises obtain by digging with their long bill. Australian white ibises will also scavenge on garbage dumps and are even known to snatch sandwiches from picnickers. These large birds communicate vocally and their call is described as a long croak.
Australian white ibises are carnivores; they feed on both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and human scraps. The most favored prey items include fish, frogs, crayfish, mussels, shellfish, crabs and insects.
Australian white ibises are monogamous and form long-lasting pair bonds. Breeding season varies with the location within Australia, generally August to November in the south, and February to May, after the wet season, in the north. Australian white ibises nest in large colonies, often near other waterbirds such as egrets, herons, spoonbills or cormorants. Their nest is a shallow dish-shaped platform of sticks, grasses or reeds, located in trees and generally near a body of water such as a river, swamp or lake. The female lays 2 to 3 dull white eggs which are then incubated for 21-23 days. Hatchlings are altricial; they are naked and helpless at birth, and it takes them around 48 days to fledge. Young Australian white ibises reach reproductive maturity in three years of age.
There are no major threats facing the Australian white ibis at present.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Australian white ibis total population size. According to the ABC Science resource the total population size of the species in Sydney is around 5,000 individuals (about 800 are juveniles). Currently, Australian white ibises are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are stable.