Bloodletting for Checkmarking

Greetings everyone!  Decided I would give my loyal readers a break from all the Halloween posts as of late and bring you something new and refreshing.  Part of this is to buy myself a little bit of time because there is an upcoming Halloween post to cover the Haunted Trail night walkthrough – can you say a butt load of pictures!?! It took forever to get those images processed and queued up for publishing.   While those are aging properly in wooden barrels, feast your eyes on this intriguing bird.
White Ibis Shot on Texas Birding Trip November 2013

Pretty cool eh?  Kind of a cross between that spoonbill you saw previously (link here) and a Stork.  Wait… did that say Stork – that reminds me I have some Georgia surprises coming hehehe.  But I digress.  This colorfully paletted bird is a White Ibis.  Your probably could have guessed the first part of that name, but the second part might be a bit more difficult to pull out of the air.
White Ibis Shot on Texas Birding Trip November 2013

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this bird and maybe learn a few interesting facts.

I was told that name was actually a mistake due to a misunderstanding that occurred in Europe around 1350.  A very upset lady was stricken with grief as her recently passed spouse was being removed from her house.  Those responsible for removing the body were in their 14th Century traditional hazmat suits that had a bird mask with an elongated downward bending bill.  At the time it was thought the Black Death was being spread by aviary (a bad rap since it was really rats and fleas).  In a fit of rage, the lady cursed the bird faced men screaming “I piss on your grave”.  A famous birder overheard this shriek from afar.  As bad luck would have it, he later discovered this innocent bird and due to the similarity gave it the name of an image he had remembered back on that sad day.

White Ibis Shot on Texas Birding Trip November 2013
The way I see it, in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Note, I did do some investigating and well, hmmm, ummmm, Tell you what, you might want to consider an alternate source if you have any school related homework regarding this bird.  I am pretty sure it is correct, but some quick Google searches came up oddly empty.  What I can tell you for sure is this bird is considered a symbol for both danger and optimism by Native American folklore.  They held that this bird was the last to seek shelter in a hurricane and the first to wander out after it blew over.  That would be thanks to our friends over at Wikipedia in stark contrast to my standard go to reference location Cornell which had absolutely crap on this bird.

Oh, before I forget, see those black tips on the wings – those indicate an adult and you generally only see those when they are flying. The subject in this next picture has those tips tucked away.
White Ibis Shot on Texas Birding Trip November 2013

I personally really enjoyed looking through the long glass at their beautiful light slate blue eyes.  Pretty much sticking with the Wikipedia information, the Ibis offspring are actually born with purple down feathers.  The coloring gives way to brown or black including brown irises. There are a number color transformations before they get their adult white plumage around the second year.
White Ibis Shot on Texas Birding Trip November 2013
In the next shot you have a much better opportunity to see those Sinatra eyes… and even those normally hidden black wing tips.
White Ibis Shot on Texas Birding Trip November 2013
You may have noticed that these birds were spending a lot of time preening themselves.  Part of this is due to their environment.  We found this flock in a small swampy area off the side of the road.  After I gave Linda our “Stop immediately there’s a cool bird I must have” code word (note, this has almost gotten us killed a couple of times but hey, when the check mark is on the line you have to commit).  So we jump out, navigate across the road and start shooting away.  After a few moments I notice my forearms are covered in blood.  What the hell?  Still excited about the new bird, I shot on… well on to the point where I realized I was being eaten alive but some insect from HELL.

White Ibis Shot on Texas Birding Trip November 2013

It was unbelievable – something black would land on you and within a microsecond pierce your skin and start sucking you dry.  Do something stupid like brush it off and the next thing you know you are covered in red thanks to smashing their bulging bellies thanks to a suckage that would make Dyson jealous.

Whoops, out of images so better put a bow on this post.  Hope you enjoyed reading about this grave pis… sorry, I mean White Ibis.  Now where is my Birding check list….



2 comments on “Bloodletting for Checkmarking

  1. Ron

    Where did you take these pictures? I have some from Fort Myers, mainly the Lakes Regional Park which is awesome, but you didn’t specify where these were taken. Texas?? Because I’m not sure any bird from Texas counts in our United States bird count friendly competition, given the sad history of forced annexation. A shame to not count such birds, but hey, history and all.

    I pity the poor schoolchild who researches this bird on the Internet, comes up with your story, and submits it to his/her teacher. Expect a note from the teacher sent directly to Mom.


  2. admin

    Oops, you are right, I forgot to mention where these were taken – they were indeed shot in Texas near the Galveston area at a marsh on the side of the road. Sorry, but I just checked with the birding rules post and there are NO state restrictions on the bird count although there might have been a mention about no birds from California. Remember the Alamo, those brave souls paved the way for us to experience some of the coolest birds I’ve ever witnessed. Having just come back from another Texas trip, I can assure you that the hopper is now full of birds that will be featured for many months.

    Are you saying my facts may be slightly exaggerated? Think of it as payback for all the bad info I was taught during my early education – Brontosaurus…. please.

    Disclaimer: For all you kiddies out there, don’t believe everything you read on the net – be sure and do some proper research before submitting school work – especially if there are references out there that are contrary to this true recount of how the Spoon was named.

Leave a reply