Andean Ibis Theristicus branickii Scientific name definitions

Fernando Medrano and Peter Pyle
Version: 2.0 — Published May 12, 2023



Walking, Running, Hopping, Climbing

Andean Ibis spends much of its time on the ground, and moves by walking (27).


Flies with legs extended and neck outstretched. In a study from Ecuador, local (where both the takeoff and landing were observed) and long-distance (where only the takeoff or landing were noted) flights were observed, with a mean duration of local flights of 18 ± 1.5 s (n = 89 flights). Local flights accounted for 1.0–3.8% of total observed behaviors, while long-distance flights accounted for 1.0–9.2% of total observed behaviors (27).


Preening, Head-Scratching, Stretching, Sunbathing, Bathing, Anting

In one study in Ecuador, preening bouts were short, usually lasting only a few seconds, and often occurring while birds were foraging (27).


Information needed.

Daily Time Budget

In one study, after chicks hatched, adults rested on the nest 50% of the time, preened 16% of the time, and roosted 9% of the time (28). Away from nests, foraging was the most common behavior observed in Ecuador, representing a mean of 72.6% of all of observed activity in terms of time (2.0–87.5% of recorded time across different sites). In addition to foraging, preening accounted for a mean of 3.8% of all observed activities (<1.0–5.9% of recorded time across different sites), flight accounted for a mean of 5.9% of all observed activities, and "other behaviors" accounted for a mean of 15.5% of observed activities (27).

Agonistic Behavior

Physical Interactions

Very little information. In Ecuador, two birds within a flock used their bill to grab the other bird’s head and bill, apparently trying to pin the other bird; the interaction lasted 10 s (27).

Communicative Interactions

Information needed.

Territorial Behavior

Information needed.

Sexual Behavior

Mating System and Operational Sex Ratio

Based on observations at the nest, Andean Ibis appears to be monogamous (28).

Courtship, Copulation, and Pair Bond

Copulations took place away from the nest at foraging sites (27, 28). In one study, courtship and copulation consisted of adults walking together closely, during which there would be 5 min bouts of courtship feeding and rubbing their heads and bill together, which would culminate in the male crossing his neck over the female’s neck before mounting the female to copulate (28). In another description of copulation behavior, West (27) noted a pair of ibis together, with one resting its head on top of the other's head. Copulations last about five seconds, and at least one bird usually vocalizes (27, 28).

Extra-Pair Mating Behavior/Paternity

Information needed.

Brood Parasitism of Conspecifics

Information needed.

Brood Parasitism of Other Species

Information needed.

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Degree of Sociality

Can form flocks of at least 13 , 14 , 19 , and 21 individuals. Intraspecific interactions, including allopreening, head bobbing, copulation, and aggressive behaviors were documented in Ecuador, which represented an average of 0.5% of all behaviors observed across all sites (<1.0–2.0% of all behaviors across different sites; 27).


Information needed.

Nonpredatory Interspecific Interactions

Little known. Most information comes from observations in Ecuador, where it has been observed foraging with Andean Lapwing (Vanellus resplendens), Andean Gull (Chroicocephalus serranus), and Puna Ibis (Plegadis ridgwayi). Andean Gull appeared to follow foraging groups of Andean Ibis and pick at prey items that were uncovered from the soil. Andean Lapwing, while at times were observed foraging with Andean Ibis, were also recorded engaging in agonistic behaviors, flying at and chasing ibis at times. Ibis were also seen to respond to alarms calls of Andean Lapwing (27). In the lowlands, it can sometimes associate with Black-faced Ibis, but with some aggression from Andean Ibis to Black-faced Ibis (16).


Kinds of Predators

Nothing known. Carunculated Caracara (Daptrius carunculatus) has been observed in pursuit of Andean Ibis or flushing them, but it is not known if this pursuit behavior represented actual hunting attempts (27).

Manner of Depredation

Information needed.

Response to Predators

Very little known. In one study, Andean Ibis would respond to the alarm calls of Andean Lapwing by standing alert, and Andean Ibis would also flush in response to close approach by Carunculated Caracara (27), but nothing else is known.

Recommended Citation

Medrano, F. and P. Pyle (2023). Andean Ibis (Theristicus branickii), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bkfibi2.02