Black-headed Ibis

This species is defined as a Review Species . Please submit your records of this species via our record submission page .

Scientific Name: Threskiornis melanocephalus

Malay Name: Sekendi Kepala Hitam Asia

Chinese Name: 黑头白鹮

Range: Breeds in India, with some populations occasionally dispersing into southeast Asia: Myanmar, Thailand, and very occasionally, Sumatra and Java. Presumed vagrants have been recorded in Taiwan and Borneo.

Taxonomy: Monotypic.

Size: 65-76 cm

Identification: Unlikely to be confused with any other species, except Australian or African Sacred Ibis, which may appear as escapees. Important features to note for Black-headed Ibis are the rather heavy bill, especially at the tip, grey tertials, and limited extent of black on primary tips (or no black at all). African Sacred Ibis has been recorded in Singapore, but that species has much more extensive and darker tertials, and black tips to primaries and secondaries. Australian Ibis may be recorded as an escapee, but has a more slender bill which appears thinner at the tip, more extensive black tips to primaries, and darker tertials. 

Habitat: Mostly marshes, swamps and paddyfields. Occasionally intertidal mudflats and mangroves.

Behaviour/Ecology: Varied diet consists of crustaceans, frogs, worms, and fish. Probes with bill in mud when foraging.

Local Status: Vagrant

Conservation Status: Near Threatened (BirdLife International 2016)

Past records in our database:

Showing only accepted records. Records currently under review are also not displayed. For a full list, click here.


BirdLife International. (2016). Threskiornis melanocephalus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.