Australian Bush Birds
Straw-necked Ibis  -  Threskiornis spinicollis
Straw-necked Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis at Kununurra, WA, showing the straw-like spiny feathers which give rise to the common name, 22 August 2006.
Straw-necked Ibis Straw-necked Ibis in flight showing white underparts with the toes trailing behind the tail.
map map The Straw-necked Ibis - Threskiornis spinicollis - has glossy iridescent black wings, back and collar. Underparts mostly white. Head is bare grey-black skin; long down curved beak also grey-black. Straw-like spiny neck feathers are unique but cannot be seen at a distance. Females are similar to males with shorter beaks. Grows to 60-70 centimetres.

Immature birds lack the straw-like feathers; their back is black with iridescent green and violet sheen; immature birds have black legs, adult birds have red legs. Immatures and females have slightly shorter bills than adult males.

In flight the feet trail behind the tail feathers, underside of the wing is mainly black with white inner feathers. The neck is always extended in flight. Tail and rump are white.

Lives in wet or dry grasslands; prefers cultivated and irrigated pastures. Occasionally in wetlands; rarely on the tidal flats frequented by the White Ibis.

Straw-necked Ibis - page 2
Large flocks gather wherever food, such as grasshoppers, abound. Feed in small groups or in flocks of hundreds moving in lines across pasture probing at the ground for food.

When travelling, flocks maintain a rough "V" or wedge formation with steady wing beats and short glides. Alternatively, they rise in thermal updrafts with wings extended.

Distributed around the Australian mainland, except for the arid centre, found in parts of Tasmania. Particularly common along the Australian east coast from north of Sydney to Cooktown. This common and nomadic species can be locally abundant.

Straw-necked Ibis flock
Straw-necked Ibis feeding near Portland, Vic. On this cloudy and dull morning the birds look to be blue-black and white; the straw feathers are difficult to see.
non-breeding Straw-necked Ibis
Non-breeding Straw-necked Ibis near Portland, Vic.