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Ibis

Ibis, a genus of Stork-like birds of the family Plataleidae, of varying extent in different classifications. As a popular name it is applied to some thirty forms, not much unlike curlews in shape, most abundant in the tropics, though some are almost cosmopolitan, and others are from the temperate parts of America. They have the following characters in common: the neck is long and generally naked, the head is small, with a long sickle-shaped bill, curving downwards; the legs are long and thin, the toes of moderate size, the three in front connected by a short membrane, and armed with narrow pointed claws, the middle one denticulated. The wings are long, broad, and rounded, and the short tail is of twelve feathers. The general plumage is white with black primaries, and in some the wing coverts are elongated and form a plume covering the tail. They feed on frogs, lizards, molluscs, and water insects. The best-known is the Sacred or Egyptian Ibis (I. aethiopica), about thirty inches long, formerly venerated in Egypt, of which country it is now no longer a native, only straying thither from other parts of Africa. It is often seen in confinement. The Glossy Ibis (I. falcinellus), ranges from Africa and Asia into Southern Europe, and has strayed to Britain. Montagu says that it is the original of the "Liver" that figures in the arms of Liverpool. The White Ibis (I. alba) is a native of Florida, and the Scarlet Ibis (I. rubra) of tropical America.

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