A couple weeks ago, I blogged about discovering Glossy Ibis nesting in the Rainwater Basin. This species has been increasing in the state since its first documented occurrence in 1999. Glossy Ibis are similar in appearance to the more common White-faced Ibis. White-faced Ibis have also increased in our state over the last several decades. On Tuesday of this week, I found myself driving down Highway 2 between Lakeside and Antioch in Sheridan County and was amazed by the numbers of ibis. I could not resist the opportunity to take a few moments to sift through the scattered groups of White-faced Ibis along the road to see whether I could find a Glossy Ibis.
It didn’t take much effort to find one Glossy Ibis, then another and so on. In all, I identified about fifty ibis to species and found 3 Glossy Ibis and another one that appeared to be a Glossy, but it may actually be a hybrid. I was able to snap a few photos of one Glossy Ibis and the apparent hybrid.
This year, I found a few Glossies with White-faced this spring, I found them nesting and now I’ve found more in the Sandhills, all without much effort. Finding Glossy Ibis was simply a function of finding groups of plegadis ibis and having decent looks at the birds.
My experience with Glossy Ibis this year is leading me to suspect this bird is now uncommon or even fairly common in our state. Their abundance is simply masked by the more numerous White-faced Ibis and also birder’s tendency to err on the side of caution, which they should do. Longstanding conclusions about anything, including a bird’s abundance, should not change without evidence. In my view, the evidence has reached critical mass.
The challenge with more Glossy Ibis and conceivably more breeding Glossy Ibis is that we may have to contend more and more with hybrids. This will be just another reason to stop and look at ibis when traveling down the highway.