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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Scarlet Ibises, Venezuela

Eudocimus ruber) is a species of ibis that occurs in tropical South America and also Trinidad and Tobago. It is the national bird of Trinidad and is featured on the Trinidad and Tobago coat of arms along with Tobago's national bird Rufous-vented Chachalaca.

Adults are 56-61 cm long and weigh 650g. They are completely scarlet, except for black wing-tips. They nest in trees, laying two to four eggs. Their diet includes crustaceans and similar small marine animals. A juvenile Scarlet Ibis is grey/white in colour; as it grows the ingestion of red crabs in the tropical swamps gradually produces the characteristic scarlet plumage.

This species is very closely related to the American White Ibis and is sometimes considered conspecific with it.

While the species may have occurred as a natural vagrant in southern Florida in the late 1800s, all recent reports of the species in North America have been of introduced or escaped birds. Eggs from Trinidad were placed in White Ibis nests in Hialeah Park in 1962, and the resulting population hybridised with the native ibis, producing "pink ibis" that are still occasionally seen.

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