Sacred ibis

Threskiornis aethiopicus


Photo credit: ©GBNNS
Threskiornis aethiopicus 
Common Names:
  • Sacred ibis

  • Meadows, marshes, reedbeds, coastal environments, rubbish dumps

  • The sacred ibis is an easily recognisable large white bird with a bald, black head and neck, a thick curved bill and black legs.

Download N.I.E.A. ID guide

Origin and Worldwide Distribution:
  • A native to sub-Saharan Africa, it was first brought into France and Italy as a zoological specimen in the 19th century but has since escaped into the wild.
  • It is currently present in Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and Spain.

Potential or Known Impacts:
  • Sacred ibises are highly mobile and adaptable.
  • They feed in a variety of man-made habitats including rubbish tips, farmyards and ploughed fields but are mostly found in wetlands, often in large colonies.
  • Through its feeding habits, it can outcompete and even predate on native water birds, thus causing severe biodiversity losses locally. Colonial-nesting species such as terns and seabirds are particularly vulnerable.

How could it get here?
  • Through zoological or private collections.

Is it found in Northern Ireland?
  • Not present in Northern Ireland.

Methods for Prevention:
  • A sales ban, the phasing out from zoos, collections and any other ownership, a rapid eradication of any newly emerging populations and the management of established populations should prevent the species from becoming a wider problem in other areas and Member States.
  • Report all sightings.

You can help by reporting any sightings: @ the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) - Or via the iRecord App.
Current Legislative Position (Listed on 03 August 2016)
  • This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment.
For further queries, you can contact the Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558 or Email:

Species Related Files:

Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland