Threskiornis melanocephalus   (Latham,  1790) (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyrights: Rajiv Lather

Size: length c. 75 cm

A large white marsh bird with naked black head and neck, and long, stout, black, downcurved curlew-like bill. In breeding plumes some slaty grey on scapulars and in wings, and ornamental plumes at base of neck. Iris red-brown, legs glossy black. Sexes alike. Parties, on marshy land.

Field Identification: A large white bird with a long curved black beak, long black legs and a naked black head and neck. Found about water.

Habits: A close relation of the Spoonbill (4) and very like it in habits and habitat. Walks about actively on marshy land probing with its bill into the soft mud, mandibles partly open like forceps. Often feeds in shallow water with the head momentarily submerged. Like storks and the spoonbill, it lacks true voice-producing mechanism and is silent except for peculiar ventriloquial grunts uttered when nesting.

Nesting: Season- in N. India June to August, in the south November to February. Nest- a platform of twigs in trees standing in or near water, frequently on village outskirts, and usually amongst mixed heronries. Eggs- 2 to 4, bluish or greenish white, sometimes with delicate spots of yellowish brown.

Synonym (s)
Tantalus melanocephalus (Latham, 1790)

Common Name (s)
• Black-headed Ibis (English)
• Munda (Hindi)
• Safed baza (Hindi)
• Mundukh (Hindi)
• Oriental White Ibis (English)
• White Ibis (English)
• Pandhra awaak (Marathi)
• Kashanti kokku (Malayalam)
• Thalaikaththi chondan (Tamil)
• Didhar (Hindi)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(It is vulnerable to drainage, disturbance, pollution, agricultural conversion, hunting and collection of eggs and nestlings from colonies. A combination of these factors has probably caused the decline.)

Habitat:  Estuarine
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Fish, frogs, molluscs, insects, worms etc.
IUCN Status:  NearThreatened


• Goa, Chapora estuary INDIA (Record: 06/04/1981)
• Goa, Carambolim INDIA
• Goa, Shiroda marshes INDIA
• Goa, Divar INDIA
• Goa, Chorao INDIA
• Kerala, Kol wetlands (Lat: 10.33) (Long: 75.96) INDIA
• Kerala, Kol wetlands (Lat: 10.66) (Long: 76.18) INDIA
• Kerala, Vembanad Lake (Lat: 9.66) (Long: 76.55) INDIA
• Kerala, Vembanad Lake (Lat: 9.28) (Long: 76.31) INDIA
• Orissa, Dhamra Port INDIA
• Haryana, Kurukshetra INDIA
• Orissa, Bhitarkanika INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Muthupet Mangroves (Lat: 10.33) (Long: 79.58) INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Pallikaranai Wetlands INDIA
• Maharashtra, Satara district INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Available at -
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Lainer, H (2004) Birds of Goa : A reference book The Goa Foundation, Goa 244 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Ali, S (1977) The book of Indian birds Bombay Natural History Society 175 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Birding in India and South Asia Available at -
  • Nameer, PO (2005) Wetlands and waterfowl conservation in kerala with special reference to Ramsar sites kerala environment congress 2005 Centre for environment and development 97-112 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Dutta, SK (2007) Biodiversity assessment of Dhamra port site and surrounding areas, Orissa Greenpeace India 4-38 Available at -
  • Srinivasulu, C (2004) Birds of kawal wildlife sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh , India Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 101(1) 3-25 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Whistler, H (1949) Popular handbook of Indian Birds Gurney and Jackson 542pp Available at -
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp Available at -
  • Gupta RC, Kaushik TK and Gupta PK (2012) WINTER MIGRATORY WETLAND BIRDS IN HARYANA ARE CONFRONTING ADVERSE CONDITIONS IN RURAL PONDS Resulting in reduction in arrival number: A case study of village Amin in Thanesar block in Kurukshetra district Indian Journal of Fundamental and Applied Life Sciences 2 (1) 7pp Available at -
  • Manakadan R and Pittie A (2001) Standardized English names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent BUCEROS Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetland 6(1) 26pp Available at -
  • Kumar A, sati JP and Tak CK (2003) Checklist of Indian Waterbids Buceros Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetlands 8(1) 30pp Available at -
  • Ali S and Ripley SD (1968) Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan Oxford university press 1 1-368pp Available at - NIO
  • Deiva Oswin S (1999) Avifaunal diversity of Muthupet mangrove forest Zoo's print journal 14(6) 47-53 Available at -
  • Gopi GV and Pandav B (2007) Avifauna of Bhitarkanika Mangroves, India Zoo's print journal 22(10) 2839-2847pp Available at -
  • Sivaperuman C and Jayson EA (2000) Birds of Kol wetland, Thrissur, Kerala Zoo's print journal 15(10) 344-349pp Available at -
  • Rao VV, Anjaneyulu M, Nagulu V, Srinivasulu C and Satyanarayana D (2004) Water fowl Status at Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh EPTRI - ENVIS Newsletter 10(4) 7-12pp Available at -,%20No.4,%202004.pdf
  • Shanbag A.B, Walia R and Borges S.D (2001) Impact of Konkan railway project on the avifauna of Carambolim lake in Goa Zoos' print journal 16(6) 503-508 Available at -
  • Narayanan SP, Thomas AP and Sreekumar B (2011) Ornithofauna and its conservation in the Kuttanad wetlands, southern portion of Vembanad-Kole Ramsar site, India Journal of Threatened Taxa 3(4) 1663–1676 Available at -
  • Pawar SM, Ganeshwade RM and Sonawane SR (2010) Avian fauna along three water reservoir from Satara district (Maharashtra), India The Bioscan 5(4) 609-612pp Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-08-08

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