Irk and Irma, the white ibises
Also known as:
Australian white ibis, black-necked ibis, sacred ibis, dump bird, sicklebird
Well, hello. We are Irk and Irma, two of the white ibises around Calamvale Creek in Brisbane, Australia.
We used to live in Brisbane city in the park outside City Hall, until the city council hired a wedge-tailed eagle to drive us out. But now we're living at an even better and more exclusive place — the Golden Pond wetlands that run into Calamvale Creek.
Where do we hang out?
We have adapted well to all areas of the creek and wetlands. Most other ibises around here spend most of their time around the two wetlands at Golden Avenue. But Irk likes the murk of the drainage system, so we often start our day at a northern stormwater drain and work our way down to the creek (see photo below).
Because we are large birds, we like to impress the smaller birds by flying to high branches. Irk likes to lurk around the tall trees beside the southern Golden Pond wetland. In the photos below you can see Irk, in the left photo, and Irma in the right photo.
What do we like to eat?
In the city parks and shopping malls we steal food while people are still eating it. We particularly like cheeseburgers, ham sandwiches, Chinese takeaway, potato scallops, fried chicken, hot dogs with barbecue sauce, french fries with chicken salt, KFC, and any food scraps we can scrabble out of garbage bins.
But since we've been kicked out of the city, we are now going
back to our traditional ibis meals:
Fish, crustaceans, frogs, snails, dragonfly larvae, small snakes, insects such as grasshoppers and beetles, and worms. They're OK when you get used to the taste. At least we don't have to worry about trans fats with our traditional food.
Why are we considered pests?
Some people find our large size intimidating. We are larger than some of the human kids who come to the area. Here's a photo of Little Bill on the wooden bridge over the creek. Irk has to smirk when he sees Little Bill constantly coming up with new ways to get food.
Little Bill is waiting for people to cross the bridge hoping they will think he is too skinny and needs some food.
We roost in groups, and this means we generate a lot of bird poo. When this is in parks or grass that people want to sit on, the area we use becomes almost uninhabitable for humans.
If we scrounge around dumps near airfields, pilots get worried that if they hit us we will damage plane engines or break windscreens.
Where do we nest?
Our nests are rough, loose platforms of sticks usually in trees above water. Sometimes nests are so close together that they touch.
Irma lays 2-5 eggs when it's nesting time, and we both incubate the eggs for 20-23 days. Irk doesn't do much other work during this time. Our young leave the nest after about 48 days.
By the way, I should tell you how Irk got his name. It's the honking sound he makes when he talks. “Irk, urrk.” When Irk starts to urrk, Irma starts to murmur.
— Irk and Irma, the white ibises