(Science: ornithology) Any bird of the genus ibis and several allied genera, of the family Ibidae, inhabiting both the old world and the new. Numerous species are known. They are large, wading birds, having a long, curved beak, and feed largely on reptiles.
The sacred ibis of the ancient egyptians (ibis aethiopica) has the head and neck black, without feathers. The plumage of the body and wings is white, except the tertiaries, which are lengthened and form a dark purple plume. In ancient times this bird was extensively domesticated in egypt, but it is now seldom seen so far north. The glossy ibis (Plegadis autumnalis), which is widely distributed both in the old world and the new, has the head and neck feathered, except between the eyes and bill; the scarlet ibis (guara rubra) and the white ibis (g. Alba) inhabit the west indies and south America, and are rarely found in the united states. The wood ibis (Tantalus loculator) of America belongs to the stork family (Ciconidae). See wood ibis.
Origin: L. Ibis, gr.; of egyptian origin.