Of the four species of Ibis found in Southern Africa, the most sought after of endemic sighting worth is the Southern Bald Ibis or ‘Wild Turkey’ as it affectionally referred to, usually found foraging on high altitude grasslands and recently burned veld, ploughed or heavily grazed grassland and cultivated lands.
An extremely striking Ibis classified as ‘Rare’ in Cites, but for now numbers considered stable in spite of habitat degradation due to overgrazing by livestock in high lying grasslands and wetland loss.
Distinguished by its conspicuous white face and bright red crown, with a metallic coppery wing patch and red legs, making its identity unmistakable in the field, although in low light and in flight or foraging about at a distance, the bird superficially resembles a Cape (Black) Crow, often found in in close association on similar high-altitude habitat.
Favoured food consists mainly of grasshoppers, locusts, beetles and caterpillars, also frogs and fire-killed small mammals, while foraging about at a leisurely in small flocks of mixed age classes.
Breeds on cliff ledges, often associated with perennial waterfalls, during the dry austral winter months, with the mountain kingdom of Lesotho central to the known range within Southern Africa, and therefore appropriately chosen as that country’s national bird..