Black-faced ibis

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Black-faced ibis
Theristicus melanopis 1 Frank Vassen.jpg
T. m. melanopis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Genus: Theristicus
Species: T. melanopis
Binomial name
Theristicus melanopis
(Gmelin, 1789)

Theristicus branickii Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1894

The black-faced ibis (Theristicus melanopis) is a species of bird in the Threskiornithidae family. It is found in grassland and fields in southern and western South America. It has been included as a subspecies of the similar buff-necked ibis, but today all major authorities accept the split. On the contrary, the black-faced ibis includes the taxon branickii as a subspecies, although some authorities treat it as a separate species, the Andean ibis (T. branickii).


It has a total length of approximately 75 centimetres (30 in). In the nominate subspecies the head, neck and lower chest are buffish, the crown and nape are cinnamon, the upperparts and (often incomplete) chest-band are grey, the belly and flight feathers are black, and the wing-coverts are whitish (though not contrasting strongly with the grey upperparts). The bill, throat-wattle and bare skin around the eyes are blackish and the legs are red. In the subspecies branickii the throat-wattle is smaller, the bill is shorter, the wing-coverts are greyer, the lower chest is paler and the cinnamon on the crown and nape is brighter and more extensive.

The similar buff-necked ibis is almost entirely restricted to warm regions, has contrasting large white wing-patches, a dark grey (not buff) lower chest, and its throat-wattle is smaller than in T. m. melanopis.

Distribution and status[edit]

The nominate subspecies of the black-faced ibis is mainly found in southern South America, ranging throughout most of southern and central Argentina and Chile, where it occurs from sea-level to an altitude of approximately 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). It also occurs very locally in coastal Peru. While it remains fairly common in Argentina and Chile, this subspecies has now been almost entirely extirpated from the Peruvian part of its range.

The subspecies branickii is restricted to altitudes of 3,000 to 5,000 metres (9,800 to 16,400 ft) in the Andean highlands of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. It is generally uncommon, and formerly also occurred in Lauca in far northern Chile.

Overall the species is not threatened, and consequently assigned Least Concern by the IUCN.


  • Jaramillo, A., P. Burker, & D. Beadle (2003). Birds of Chile. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-4688-8
  • Matheu, E., & J. del Hoyo (1992). Family Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills). pp. 472–506 in: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, & J. Sargatal (editors). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-10-5