Glossy Ibis in a Port St. Lucie yard, spotted on Friday, driving home from the botanical garden.
I don’t see many glossies out by the coast. The White Ibis are much more common around us.
There are three species of ibis in North America. Apparently it’s easy to confuse Glossy Ibis with the brown White-faced Ibis (but not with the all-white White Ibis, of course). I’m going with Glossy, though, since we are not in the area for White-faced. More on ID from Audubon.org…
Birdist Rule #83: Identify Your First Ibis
Beware: We have three species, and two of them can be very confusing.
Not confusing: White Ibis crossing the street in my neighborhood. I see lots of these birds, pretty much every day. Starting with their bills, ibises seem to be made of gentle curves.
Because I don’t see many Glossy Ibis, I thought they were uncommon. Well, in fact they are the most widespread species of Ibis on the planet.
(It is impossible to learn what you think you already know. I got that from Epictetus, the Greek Stoic philosopher, and it might be my favorite quote. Applicable to so many situations.)
Audubon Field Guide…
Flocks of Glossy Ibises wade in the shallows of eastern marshes, probing for food with their sickle-shaped bills. Widespread in the Old World, the species is found in the New World mainly in the West Indies and along our Atlantic Coast, especially Florida, where it was quite scarce as recently as the 1930s. It may have invaded within the last few centuries, riding the trade winds across from West Africa to the Caribbean.
Ibis hieroglyph, Edfu Temple of Horus.
There are 29 species of Ibis (Theskiornithidae) in the world, including the African sacred ibis that was venerated in Ancient Egypt. It was associated with the ibis-headed god Thoth, whose domain was the moon, magic, mathematics, measurement, time and writing.
An Egyptian bronze and wood ibis coffin, circa 747-656 B.C., Christie’s.
He served as a mediating power, especially between good and evil, making sure neither had a decisive victory over the other. He also served as scribe of the gods, credited with the invention of writing and alphabets (i.e. hieroglyphs) themselves. In the underworld, Duat, he appeared as an ape, A’an, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased’s heart against the feather, representing the principle of Ma’at, was exactly even.
The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced. He was the master of both physical and moral (i.e. divine) law, making proper use of Ma’at. He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them. Compare this to how his feminine counterpart, Ma’at was the force which maintained the Universe. He is said to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist. His power was unlimited in the Underworld and rivalled that of Ra and Osiris.
The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic. The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, the science of numbers, mathematics, geometry, land surveying, medicine, botany, theology, civilized government, the alphabet, reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine.
That’s some bird god.