|Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita
|The Northern Bald Ibis is classified as Critically Endangered by Birdlife International. Formerly widespread across North Africa and the Middle East as well as Central Europe it is now confined to extremely small populations in Morocco, Turkey and Syria. The eastern population is migratory and extremely small with just a handful of birds and may become extinct at any moment.|
|The western population in Morocco was down to 59 pairs in 1998 but, with conservation measures and local monitoring it has recovered to over 300 adults by 2013. They nest in colonies on ledges and crevices in cliffs but fly off to nearby scrub and pastures where they feed on grasshoppers, locusts, and beetles (see photo 4) as well as other insects, frogs, nestlings, berries and young shoots.|
|We photographed this feeding flock of about 25 birds who flew into feed and were quite confiding and not
disturbed by our presence in the vehicle.
There are breeding projects in Austria and Spain where semi-wild birds are now breeding and flying free. This recording was of birds from the Austrian population which winters in Italy.
|The generic name Geronticus is rather apt meaning "like an old man" though the specific name eremita meaning "hermit" is less so given its propensity to colonial breeding and feeding.|
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