Family Threskiornithidae (ibises & spoonbills)

So this is the fifth family in the order Pelecaniformes, and it consists of the ibises and the spoonbills.

There are 34 large wading birds that make up this family, and they are found around the globe (with the exception of the cold northern and southern regions–in other words they aren’t found on Antarctica, and usually aren’t seen in Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, and Russia).

White-faced Ibis patrolling for food in New Mexico

The traditional sub-classification has been dividing the birds into two groups: the ibises and the spoonbills. But with more recent genetic analysis, it looks like the spoonbills are more closely related to ‘old world’ ibises, and the ‘new world’ ibises are separate.

The best way to know if you’re looking at an ibis or a spoonbill–is their beak. The beak of a ibis is long and curves downward, whereas the beak of the spoonbill is straight and flat (and looks a little like a spoon–hence the name spoonbill).

They feed during the day and roost in trees at night near the water.

In terms of which of the 34 species one can spot within the United States they would be the following:

White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill

The other thirty species can be found throughout the rest of the world.