Green Ibis Mesembrinibis cayennensis

  • Order: Pelecaniformes
  • Family: Threskiornithidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Donna Molfetto


Distinguishing Characteristics

The Green Ibis has a decurved, greenish bill, short greenish legs, dark bronzy green plumage that is brightest on the neck and chest, an inconspicuous crest, and a dull black belly (Ridgely and Gwynne 1992).

Similar Species

In poor light, the Green Ibis may seem similar to the Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), though the latter is more slender, has longer legs, and is bronzy or purplish in good light (Ridgely and Gwynne 1992, Hilty 2003).

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Blake (1977) with respect to the adult, and on Hancock et al. (1992) for the nestling.

Adult: Sexes similar. The back, rump, wing coverts, inner secondaries, and undersurface are dark, strongly glossed with bronzy green. The primaries, outer secondaries, and rectrices steel blue. The long, narrow feathers of the hindneck and sides of the neck are sparkling emerald green. The throat and the fore part of head are dull gray.

Nestling: Dark gray with a cicurmorbital white line, which is apparent for some time after fledging, but fades with age.


Little information. The nestlings have a gray plumage; some juvenile plumage characteristics are maintained after the first molt occurs (Hancock et al. 1992). It appears that only the skin changes color for the breeding season, with no alternate molt (Hancock et al. 1992).

Bare Parts

Data from Blake (1977):

Iris: pale brown; bare orbital skin and bare skin on chin deep gray

Bill: greenish

Tarsi: greenish


Total length: 48-56 cm (Blake 1977, Hilty 2003).

Morphometric data (mm) for Green Ibis Mesembinibis cayennensis (from Blake 1977)
  sex   wing (chord)             tail culmen from base   tarsus  n

mean 280

range 263-300

mean 138

range 127-155

mean 112.6

range 104.5-118.5

mean 62.4

range 61.8-63.5


mean 283

range 280-289

mean 142

range 131-148

mean 108.5

range 103-113

mean 59.5

range 56.8-62.2


Mass: 1 male 785 g, 1 female 715 g (Haverschmidt 1968)

Recommended Citation

Molfetto, D. (2011). Green Ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.