The southern bald ibis is a gregarious bird that feeds and roosts in large flocks (2). From the roost they fly with powerful wing beats interspersed with gliding and soaring, to suitable foraging areas. In groups of up to 100, this hunter and scavenger will walk along, pecking and probing at the soil, or turning over cattle dung and leaves, searching for prey such as caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, earthworms, snails, frogs, small dead mammals and birds (2) (5). The ibis will walk quickly over burnt grassland picking up dead and living insects (2) (5), and there have also been reports of the southern bald ibis collecting buttons, which is likely to be because they are mistaken for beetles (2), and not an unusual hobby! At dusk the southern bald ibis returns to its roost, which is situated on cliffs or in trees, in groups of up to 50, along with other ibises and herons.
The southern bald ibis nests on the ground, generally in colonies of 40 pairs or more. The male occupies the nest site first, which it will then defend with aggressive jabs with its bill (2). After attracting a mate, the male collects sticks and soft vegetation from which the female constructs a nest (2) (5). Clutches of one to three eggs are laid between August and October, and both parents regurgitate food to feed the young. The young fly after about 55 days, but depend on the parent’s food for up to two months (2).