Thursday, October 22, 2020

Pink or Scarlet?

Photo by Carl Kelly

Photo by Carl Kelly

When Sean Kelly saw this pink ibis on Isles of Capri, he said, “She’s wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” Actually, ibis may show pink for either of two reasons other than breast cancer awareness.

One: About fifty years ago, several scarlet ibis, natives of South America, were released in south Florida and interbred with their close cousins, the white ibis, producing a bird that shows pink as an adult. This bird could be a hybrid white-scarlet ibis.

Two: scarlet ibis begin life as gray-brown birds and slowly turn through pink to red as a result of crustaceans in their diet. This bird could be a young scarlet ibis, one of the very few in South Florida. If so, he/she hasn’t grown scarlet yet.

This bird appears to be young, as indicated by the neck and head gray-brown coloring that is common to the young of both white and scarlet ibis.

One response to “Pink or Scarlet?”

  1. Ivor Roberts says:

    Young scarlet ibis do not go from grey to pink to red. They go directly from grey to red. Sometimes they are almost fully coloured in a year but will still have some dark feathers. By the end of second year they are fully scarlet. There is no pink year.

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