Bare-faced Ibis Phimosus infuscatus

  • Order: Pelecaniformes
  • Family: Threskiornithidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Mateo Matamala, Alejandra Echeverri, Iliana Medina, Erika Nathalia Salazar Gómez, Viviana Alarcón, and C. Daniel Cadena


  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Bare-faced Ibis
eBird range map for Bare-faced Ibis

Generated from eBird observations (Year-Round, 1900-present)

Distribution in the Americas

Bare-faced Ibis is widespread in South America, occurring in Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana, Surinam, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Urugay and Argentina (Matheu and del Hoyo 1992).

In Venezuela, the Bare-faced Ibis typically inhabits elevations up to 500 m, but has been recorded as vagrant up to 3600 m. It occurs in the Maracaibo Basin, river valleys in Andes (sight records in Mérida; Barinas), eastern Falcón to northern Aragua (Ocumare de la Costa Rica; Maracay), in Miranda, and generally east of Andes from Táchira, Apure, Barinas and Guárico to northern Bolívar (east to the lower Río Caura) and in northwestern Amazonas (Hilty 2003).

In Colombia P. infuscatus can be regularly found up to 1000 m. In the Sabana de Bogotá, it has become fairly regular at ca 2600 m over the past decade (C.D. Cadena, unpublished data). The species is usually found in the Sinú Valley, Santa Marta and western Guajira. It is also commonly found in the southern Cauca Valley, Magdalena Valley, northwestern Santander, western Caquetá and Vaupés (Hilty and Brown 1986).
In Ecuador, the Bare-faced Ibis is a very rare visitant to sandbars and adjacent grassy areas. There are only a few Ecuadorian records of these species, all of them recent (since 1964). The first two involve birds that were collected along the Río Napo. Since then there have been a few sightings along the Río Napo, in the lower Río Aguarico/Lagartococha region, and near Río Agrio. No seasonality patterns are evident (Ridgely andGreenfield 2001).

Distribution outside the Americas

Endemic to the Americas.


The Bare-faced Ibis occurs mainly in open areas such as wet meadows, pastures and savannas, marshes, rice fields and margins of lagoons, pools and rivers; it also inhabits wooded swamps and streams. Usually near sea level but recorded to 1950 m in Venezuela, and to 2600 m in Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986, Cadena personal obsrevations). In urban areas the species occurs along canals and ditches (Hilty 2003). The species has been reported in areas where the original vegetation has been substituted by grasses for cattle or rice fields. This suggests a possible colonization of formerly uninhabited areas owing to human induced habitat transformation in Colombia (Botero et al. 2009), Argentina (Lucero 2009, Lucero and Chebez 2001) and Brazil (Rupp et al. 2008).

Historical changes

None reported.

Fossil history

Two elements referable to Phimosus infuscatus were collected from the Pliocene of Meade County, Kansas: a fragment of a lower mandible and a worn proximal phalanx of right digit number two (Hibbard 1950, Taylor 1960). Because of the midventral groove, it was identified as an ibis and due to its small size (2.5 mm in width and 1.4-1.7 mm in depth) it was referred to P. infuscatus. These fossils reveal not only that the species occurred in North America, but also that this region of what is now Kansas had a warm, moist, frost-free, tropical climate because nowadays the species is only confined to South America where these weather conditions still exist (Collins 1964).

Recommended Citation

Matamala, M., A. Echeverri, I. Medina, E. N. Salazar Gómez, V. Alarcón, and C. D. Cadena (2012). Bare-faced Ibis (Phimosus infuscatus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.