Unveiling the Enigmatic: The Ibisbill

India, a country with diverse geographical features and climate, has always been a fascinating destination for bird lovers and ornithologists. Each region has its distinctive avifauna, contributing to the country’s rich biodiversity. Among the myriad of bird species inhabiting this land, there is one that particularly stands out because of its unique appearance and rare sighting—the Ibisbill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii). This bird, associated with the wader family, is truly a spectacle to witness in the high-altitude regions of the country. With its long, down-curved bill and distinctive color pattern, the Ibisbill offers a captivating sight against the backdrop of riverbanks and shingles of the Indian Himalayas.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameIbisbill
2Scientific nameIbidorhyncha struthersii
3ColourGrey with a white belly, red legs, and a black face and black breast band
4Average length38-41 cm
5Average heightSimilar to length as the bird has a slightly round body
6Type of birdWaders (associated with rivers, lakes, and wetlands)
7Found in India in statesCentral and Northern parts of India, especially in the Himalayan region
8HabitatShingle riverbanks of high plateau and the Himalayas
9IUCN StatusNear Threatened

Features of the Ibisbill


A full-grown Ibisbill measures around 38-41 cm in length, making it a medium-sized bird. This includes the head-to-tail measurement of the bird. Given the bird’s size, it’s fascinating how its appearance seamlessly blends with its environment, making it rather elusive despite its substantial size. Even bird photographers find it challenging to spot this cryptic bird in its natural habitat. In the case of the Ibisbill, its length is indeed a testament to its incredible camouflage capabilities.


When discussing the height of the Ibisbill, we refer to the vertical length of the bird when standing, which is roughly similar to its body length, making it approximately 38-41 cm. The bird stands tall on its red legs, further accentuated by the black breast band and face, offering a striking contrast. For a bird lover, observing an Ibisbill can be an enriching experience, given its peculiar physical characteristics.

Running Speed

The Ibisbill, with its stout body and sturdy legs, may not be known for its running speed. Nonetheless, it’s a competent swimmer and prefers crossing rivers by swimming rather than flying. This preference for swimming over running gives us a glimpse into the bird’s unique adaptation to its riverine habitat, something rarely seen in many bird species.


The Ibisbill possesses a unique coloration that makes it stand out among other wader birds. Its body is primarily grey, with a contrasting white belly. Adding to its distinct look is the black face and black breast band that draw attention to its remarkable, down-curved bill, sharing a crimson hue similar to its legs. This intriguing color pattern helps the bird camouflage in the stony environment, making it a delight for any bird shop or bird sanctuary that showcases its photograph or bird image name.

Other Features

Apart from its distinctive physical traits, the Ibisbill is known for its peculiar behavior, including its preference for swimming across rivers rather than flying. Additionally, the bird has a call that resonates as a ringing “Klew-klew,” similar to that of a greenshank. During flight, the bird’s outstretched neck and rounded wings give it an ibis-like appearance, hence its common name, the “Ibisbill.”

Habitat and Food of the Bird

  1. Habitat: The Ibisbill primarily resides along the stony riverbeds of the high-altitude regions in Central Asia and the Himalayas. It prefers shingle-bed river valleys interspersed with patches of sand, silt, pebbles, and small boulders. These areas typically have sparse vegetation and gentle slopes that ensure a slow flow of water.
  1. Food: The Ibisbill’s diet mainly consists of aquatic invertebrates. Using its long, curved bill, the bird skillfully probes the sand, gravel, and shallow waters to hunt for its prey.
  1. Seasonal Migration: Ibisbill does not demonstrate significant migratory behavior. However, they may descend to lower altitudes outside their breeding season. This move allows them to find food sources more easily during the harsh winter months.
  1. Activity Pattern: The Ibisbill is generally a solitary bird outside the breeding season. However, during autumn and winter, it can occasionally be found in pairs or small flocks.
  1. Interaction with Humans: Interestingly, Ibisbills are not particularly shy of humans. They can often be spotted in regions with a moderate human presence.

Nesting and Nurturing

The Ibisbill’s nesting season usually starts in the early summer. They build their nests on sandy or gravelly surfaces, often near water bodies. The female Ibisbill is primarily responsible for building the nest, which is a simple scrape in the ground, lined with small pebbles or plant material. The male incubates the eggs and looks after the young. The male takes responsibility for incubating the eggs and caring for the offspring. A typical clutch usually contains two to four eggs. The chicks are considered precocial, as they are born with their eyes open and can venture out of the nest shortly after hatching.


The primary threats to the Ibisbill are habitat destruction and human disturbance. As the bird lives along riverbanks, the construction of dams and hydroelectric projects could potentially destroy its habitat. Furthermore, sand and gravel extraction for construction purposes also pose a significant threat. The bird’s elusive nature and preference for isolated habitats make it vulnerable to disturbances, including those caused by human activities.

IUCN Status and Conservation

The Ibisbill is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It means that while the bird is not endangered or vulnerable at the moment, it could face such risks in the near future. Conservation efforts primarily focus on habitat preservation and minimizing human disturbances. Creating awareness about the bird’s existence and importance is also a vital step towards its protection.

In conclusion, the Ibisbill is an enchanting bird that deserves our attention and conservation efforts. Its unique features and behaviors offer a captivating glimpse into the world of avian adaptations. As bird lovers and enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we contribute to the conservation and survival of such exquisite species, allowing future generations the privilege of experiencing their beauty firsthand. By visiting a bird shop or bird sanctuary, or by simply observing the bird in its natural habitat, we can increase our understanding and appreciation of the Ibisbill, thereby fostering a greater respect for the biodiversity that surrounds us.

More info about Ibisbill: Link

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