Family Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)

Near Threatened

Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)


French: Ibis à tête noire German: Schwarzhalsibis Spanish: Ibis oriental
Other common names: Oriental White Ibis

Tantalus melanocephalus


, 1790,



Closely related to T. aethiopicus, T. bernieri and T. moluccus, and in past all were occasionally considered conspecific. Monotypic.


Breeds from Pakistan (S Sind) and Nepal through India to Sri Lanka; probably NE China (Heilongjiang); also Cambodia, S Vietnam, Java and possibly Sumatra. Winters in S China, Myanmar, Thailand, Sumatra and Philippines. Formerly more widespread in E Asia.

Descriptive notes

65–76 cm; wingspan 130 cm. Ornamental feathers grey, not black. Very little black on tips of primaries, and none on secondaries. Non-breeding adult largely lacks grey... read more


Usually silent away from breeding colonies. Around nest, some low-pitched grunts and croaks, and a... read more


Open country in marshes, swamps, flooded areas, margins of rivers and lakes, paddyfields and fallow... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes frogs, tadpoles, snails, adults and larvae of insects, and worms; also fish and crustaceans, probably more commonly when... read more


Season Jun–Oct in N India, Nov–Mar in S India and Sri Lanka; varies depending on water conditions after onset of monsoon.... read more


Largely sedentary throughout most of range, but birds move around in response to changes in water... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Global population estimated at 15,000–30,000 birds, about half of them in S Asia and the remainder in SE... read more

Recommended citation

Matheu, E., del Hoyo, J., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2019). Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 March 2019).