Capricorn Coast Birds
   
 
 
Ibis and Spoonbills
 
     
  Straw-necked Ibis
Threskiornis spinicollis
Average size 70cm
 
     
 
 
These are found throughout Australia except parts of Western Australia, South Australia, and south-west Tasmania although they are most abundant on the east coast, they are also found in Indonesia and New Guinea.
They prefer shallow freshwater wetlands, cultivated pastures, the edges of swamps and lagoons and wet or dry grasslands but tend to avoid arid and saltwater areas and coastal mudflats. They are very nomadic and are constantly on the move searching for suitable habitats.
In shallow waters they feed on aquatic insects, molluscs, frogs, and food sifted from the surface of the water body. On land they eat  grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts and are often called the Farmer's Friend because they feed on pests that would otherwise eat farm crops, they also eat small lizards, skinks, and other small reptiles.
The sexes are similar and build a large, rough, cup-shaped nest of sticks and trampled plants among reeds, paperbarks, bulrushes or in trees over water, nests are used year after year. They build in colonies, often with the Australian White Ibis, and breeding can occur throughout the year after heavy rain. Both sexes build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young.
 
       
  Australian White Ibis
Threskiornis molucca
Average size72 cm
 
     
   
These are easily identified by their almost entirely white body plumage and black head and neck, they are common and widespread in northern and eastern Australia in habitats such as swamps, lagoons, floodplains and grasslands.
Although natural populations of White Ibis are declining, their numbers have grown so rapidly in some east coast cities that they have come to be regarded as a problem species. This is thought to be a result of the recent severe drought and the long term effects of habitat loss through agricultural encroachment.
The long curved bill is used to probe for food, which includes a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates such as grubs, insects, shellfish,  frogs, crayfish and mussels.
The sexes look alike and nest in a shallow dish-shaped platform of sticks, grasses or reeds, located in trees and generally near a body of water such as a river, swamp or lake. They nest in large colonies, often with other waterbirds such as egrets, herons, spoonbills and cormorants.
 
       
  Glossy Ibis
Plegadis falcinellus
Average size 55cm
 
         
   
These are the smallest of the three species of ibis in Australia and are found throughout much of the mainland, but are more numerous in the north. Globally they are also found in the warm regions of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. In Australia they generally move north in autumn, then return south to their main breeding areas in spring and summer.
Here they are not as common as the Straw-necked and White Ibis and avoid people and built-up areas, the photo was taken on Fishing Creek Road where it runs through the Capricorn Resort wetlands.
Their habitats are marshes along the margins of lakes and rivers, lagoons, flood-plains, wet meadows, swamps and irrigated farmland.
They feed by probing the water and mud with their long, curved bill searching for a wide variety of small prey such as adult and larval insects, snails and occasionally fish, frogs and small reptiles.
Males and females look the same and build a platform nest of sticks, with a lining of aquatic plants, between the upright branches of trees or shrubs growing in, or near, water. They breed together with other ibises and water birds in small colonies.
 
       
  Royal Spoonbill
Platalea regia
Average size 78 cm
 
         
   

These are found throughout eastern and northern mainland Australia and are also found in New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and on some south-western Pacific islands. Their habitats are shallow freshwater and saltwater wetlands, intertidal mud flats and wet grasslands.
They feed in water that is less than 40 cm deep over sand, mud or clay, where they can sweep the water with their bill, eating mainly fish in freshwater and shrimps in tidal flats: they will also eat other crustaceans and aquatic insects. On the inside of the spoon shaped bill there are many vibration detectors, called papillae, with these the bird feels for prey.
The sexes are similar and when breeding long white plumes grow from the back of their heads, coloured patches also appear on the face. They form monogamous pairs for the duration of the breeding season and nest in colonies, building a solid bowl-shaped nest of sticks and twigs lined with leaves and water plants, the nest is usually placed in the crown of a tree over water or among high reeds and rushes and may be reused annually, both sexes incubate the eggs and feed the young.

 
       
  Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Platalea flavipes
Average size 85 cm
 
   

These are found across Australia in suitable habitat, particularly in the north and well-watered inland areas but they are less common in coastal regions. The photo was taken along the Mercure Capricorn Resort access road where I came across a pair feeding in a shallow pond along with other waders. They are not common here and I have only seen one before, if you get the chance drive out and have a look.
Their habitat is the shallows of freshwater wetlands, dams, lagoons, swamps and flooded pastures.
They feed on aquatic insects and their larvae, using their bill to sweep shallow water for prey. The bill has many vibration detectors, called papillae, on the inside of the spoon, which means the bird can feel for prey items even in murky water. Once food is caught they  lift their bill up and let the items slide down their throat.
Males and females look the same and nest in colonies with other water birds such as ibises and Royal Spoonbills. The nest is a shallow, unlined platform of sticks, rushes and reeds in high forks of trees over water, or in among reed beds.