National Geographic : 1954 Nov
N 591 Allan D. Cruickshank, National Audubon Society Wood Ibises Soar with Graceful, Streamlined Ease Through Florida Skies Awkward on land, the wood ibis becomes a ballerina aloft. Outthrust neck and streaming legs are characteristic of its flight. It enjoys aerobatics and may zigzag, spin, or dive like a falling arrow. A gregarious creature, it feeds as well as nests in large flocks. At times such flocks gather in shallow ponds and scratch with their feet, muddying the water so thoroughly that fish rise to the surface. Having brought their dinner within easy reach, the birds gorge themselves. Unlike herons, wood ibises do not stab their prey but seize it in powerful, nine-inch beaks. Snakes, frogs, tadpoles, insects, and an occasional young alligator are featured on their bill of fare. The head of this superb aviator, like that of the condor, is bald. Floridians often call the birds "flintheads."