Nature conservation

Native animals

Australian white ibis community survey

The Australian white ibis, Threskionis molucca, is a highly visible native water bird in New South Wales.

What do they look like?

  • Like all ibises, the Australian white ibis has a large, curved beak designed for probing.
  • Their heads and necks are featherless and black, except for horizontal lines on the back of the head that vary in colour from pale pink to red.
  • Their bodies in contrast are mainly white, apart from black tips to the longest flight feathers, black lacelike wing feathers and highly visible bare patches under the wings and on the breast that also vary in colour from pale pink to red.
  • The legs are reddish brown to black in colour.
  • Prior to the 1970s, the Australian white ibis did not breed in the Sydney region but followed the non-permanent waters of inland lakes and rivers, due to the extensive droughts and changes in water regime they have sought refuge in the coastal wetlands. Ibises have adapted well to the constant water and food supply available in urban environments and they are now a common site in our parklands where they feed on invertebrates (beetles etc) and crustaceans (yabbies etc).

How many are there? Help us find out!


Leg bands and wing tags

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is trying to get a better understanding of the distribution and abundance of Australian white ibis across NSW and we are working with our neighbouring States and Territories to census the national population. This will help us to develop conservation practices for these birds. One of the questions we are attempting to answer is how many of these birds are actually in New South Wales and Australia?

Since 2003, we have been running the community survey. The surveys have taken place on a single day in spring. We have asked members of the public to tell us about their white ibis sightings. Information from community members will improve our knowledge  and help us to understand and manage these distinctive birds.

The next survey is on 25/26 - October 2014, and you're invited to participate! If you see any white ibis on this day, anywhere in NSW or Australia, please let us know.

We need to know how many birds you have seen, along with the location and time of day. Some birds may have bands or tags , as shown in the pictures. Please provide as many details as possible about the colour and location of the bands on the bird's legs or colour and number of the tags on the bird's wing.

To send the information to us, you can:

More information

Page last updated: 21 August 2014