The White-Faced Ibis Kept their Distance

Another bird I always enjoy seeing at Bear River is the White-Faced Ibis because we never see them on the west side of the Cascades. There were large flocks of them at Bear River, but they seemed unusually shy this time. As I approached them the closest birds would fly off and before I could reach the next group they, too, would have taken off.

Trying to get shots of birds flying overhead while still rolling forward on a steeply banked gravel road is not conducive to great shots,


but at least two of the birds seem to be in focus.

What’s strangest about this is that I’ve never noticed White-Faced Ibis to be so flighty before. Most of the time they’re just plain indifferent to birders in their cars. This ibis which was in a field with Avocets and Stilts, and not with a flock of White-Faced Ibis seemed totally indifferent to me, just as the avocets were.


If it hadn’t been so distant and if the sun hadn’t been behind it, this might have been “the shot” I was looking for. The brilliant breeding colors are clearly there.

The grass was still short enough in this field that you could see the White-Faced Ibis’ distinctive beak and see how well they blend in with their habitat.


Strangely enough, I had nearly the same experience at Malheur where I went right after leaving Bear River. Both places had large flocks of Ibis but they were so flighty that if I didn’t know better I would have thought it was hunting season. Coincidentally, this is the first time I haven’t seen the Ibis dispersed with avocets and stilts, and I can’t help but wonder if that doesn’t have something to do with their sensitivity to intruders.

This failure to get a single excellent shot of a White-Faced Ibis, one of the most numerous birds on the refuge, was one of the few frustrating moments at Bear River.