March 28, 2014
No one has offered to explain why Gulf coast ibises generally flock together and Gulf coast Great Blue Herons and egrets generally don’t. Maybe it comes down to some birds of a feather just tending to, and some just tending not to. Not a very satisfying resolution to my query but maybe all I can get. On the other hand, I learned a great many other things about the American White Ibis on Wikipedia, including that “on an average day [they spend] 10.25 hours looking for food, 0.75 hours flying, [and] 13 hours resting, roosting, and attending to their nests.” Here’s another shot of the same group whose photograph I posted yesterday.
Fellow photographer and former coworker John Bucher—who did his doctoral work on avian ecology, behavior, and evolution—has come forth with a hunch about flocking. Here’s what he says: “I’m confident that work has been done on this question, i.e., flocking behavior of various species of water birds, and that a literature search would provide some detailed answer. My hunch is that the ibis have more success in their foraging when they are hunting and digging together. And this might be related to the sort of prey that they seek. So they hang out together more than other species.”