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Species Guide
A photo of a Ibisbill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii)


Ibidorhyncha struthersii

The Ibisbill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii) is a unique bird, a grey-plumaged creature with a striking white belly. Its most notable features are its vivid red legs and an elongated, down-curved bill reminiscent of an ibis, hence its name. Adorning its visage is a black mask, coupled with a black breast band that sets it apart from other waders.

Identification Tips

Adult Ibisbills measure between 38–41 cm in length, with females typically bearing slightly longer bills than males. The bill ranges from 6.8–8.2 cm and is a brilliant crimson. Juveniles can be distinguished by the absence of black on the face and breast, and a less vibrant bill. The legs of the Ibisbill are a greyish purple in breeding adults, turning to a dull sepia in juveniles or a greenish hue in non-breeding adults. When deceased, the legs of the Ibisbill change to a red shade similar to the bill. Weighing between 270–320 grams, females are marginally heavier than males. Despite its vivid appearance, the Ibisbill blends seamlessly into its stony habitat.


The Ibisbill is found in shingle-bed river valleys, a habitat characterized by a mix of sand, silt, pebbles, and small boulders. These river valleys have sparse vegetation and gentle slopes, ensuring a slow water flow, which is essential for the Ibisbill's feeding.


This bird is native to Central Asia and the Himalayas, with its range extending from Lake Issyk-Kul to the southern border of Manchuria, and throughout the highlands of the Central and Northern Tien Shan.


Ibisbills are often solitary during autumn and winter, though they may form pairs or small flocks. They exhibit territorial behavior during the breeding season, and despite their limited habitat, they may breed in proximity to others. Notably unafraid of humans, Ibisbills are adept swimmers, preferring to cross rivers by swimming rather than flying. Their activity levels increase with the approach of the breeding season.

Song & Calls

The Ibisbill's call is a distinctive, resonant "Klew-klew," akin to the sound of a greenshank. This call becomes more prevalent as the breeding season nears.


The Ibisbill is believed to be monogamous. Its breeding behavior includes running short distances with its head lowered, only pausing to survey its surroundings. The nest is a simple ground scrape, sometimes lined with pebbles, located on riverbanks. Clutch sizes range from two to four eggs, laid in late April or early May, with both parents sharing incubation duties.

Diet and Feeding

The Ibisbill's diet consists of probing under rocks or gravel in stream beds for invertebrates such as caddisfly and mayfly larvae, grasshoppers, and occasionally small fish.

Conservation status

The Ibisbill is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, with an extensive range estimated at 5 million square kilometers. Its population is not currently thought to be in decline.

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Tshering Dorji
09 Feb 2024 - 10:42am
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