insects, frogs, small snakes
shorelines, shallow bays
The bright red plumage of the scarlet ibis comes from the red pigment found in its diet of shellfish and shrimps. It concentrates the carotenoids from its food and deposits the pigments in its feathers.
Birds with lots of parasites are less able to retain carotenoids, resulting in duller plumage. Therefore, males with intense red plumage signal good health and are more attractive to females.
Scarlet Ibises do not start life with brilliant red plumage –chicks have black feathers! As they mature, they feed on a carotene-rich diet, moult and don the dazzling red plumage.
At Bird Paradise, our scarlet ibises are fed a specially formulated diet to keep them in the pink.
Scarlet ibises are a communal species. They forage, roost and nest in flocks. Using their curved, slender bill, they probe mudflat and shallow water for prey.
The scarlet ibises at Crimson Wetlands are hard to miss – large flocks gather in trees; from a distance they look like crimson `blooms’. You are also likely to spot them foraging with the spoonbills, as scarlet ibises would in the wild.
Caroni Swamp is the second largest wetland on the Caribbean islands and home to some 30,000 scarlet ibises. Considered a delicacy by the locals, the scarlet ibis has been heavily hunted.
The ibises inhabiting Caroni Swamp are now listed as an environmentally sensitive species, and poachers will face hefty fines and prison sentences.