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Common Name : White Ibis     -       Scientific Name : Threskiornis melanocephalus       -       Other Name : Sudu Dethuduwa (S), Black-headed Ibis (E)
Illanda Mottai
02/16/2014
Periya Villu
02/14/2014

This is a resident species that is native to the Indian Subcontinent and South-east Asia. Other than in Sri Lanka it is found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal up to Japan.

The conservation status of the species under reference is regarded as “Least Concerned” (National Red List 2012).
The White Ibis is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

The global conservation status of this species is considered as “Near Threatened” as the population has been declining in the recent past. In Sri Lanka however, it is a common species found usually in small flocks of about 5-6 individuals throughout the lowlands up to an altitude of about 350 meters. In the 1950s this species was rarely seen in the wet zone but has now become common and can be seen wherever there are paddy fields. It is common in the outskirts of the city of Colombo at localities such as Kotte marshes, Pepiliyana, Pillawa and Bellanwila-Attidiya marshes. As in the case of the Spot-billed Pelican, the population close to Colombo originated from the free flying colony at the Dehiwala Zoological Gardens. It is found throughout the dry zone and sometimes occurs in large flocks of 60-70 birds. In the North I have observed them to be common in the Mannar Island, Jaffna Peninsula and even in the islands off the coast such as Analathivu Island and the Delft Island.

In Wilpattu this species can be observed at most villus and water bodies in small numbers. Large flocks of up to 50 birds can be observed towards the northern part of the park such as Periya Villu and Maila Villu. Capturing a good photograph of this species can be a challenge as this is a black and white bird. One has to exercise caution in balancing the light to ensure that the white is not overexposed while capturing the details of the black head.