- Physical Description: The ibis is a wading bird with a long narrow neck and head, and a downward-curving thick beak measuring an average of 26 inches long. The ibis shares visual similarities with the heron, but the ibis’s beak is curved, whereas the heron’s is straight. The white-faced ibis has dark feathers with a burgundy sheen and a white mask around the eye area. It measures roughly 20 inches long and weighs approximately a pound.
- Geographic Distribution: The whit-faced ibis, the most common species in North America, is found in the central and western United States, down through Central America, and into the southern part of South America.
- Environment: The ibis is found in coastal regions as well as swamps, marshes, and wetlands.
Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations
Folklore says the ibis is the last bird to take shelter before a hurricane strikes, and the first to emerge once the danger has passed.
The ibis was a sacred bird in ancient Egypt. The ibis family name, Threskiornithidae, is Greek for “sacred bird.” The Egyptian god of knowledge and writing, Thoth, is portrayed as having the head of an ibis.
The American stork is sometimes called “wood ibis,” as settlers confused the New World herons and storks with the Old World ibis.
Omens and Divinatory Meaning
Because the ibis is connected to knowledge and writing, seeing this bird can mean that you need to address the process of learning in your life. Have you been struggling with your methods of learning? Try something different. If you’re usually an active learner who absorbs information through hands-on learning, try a visual-based learning style, or a verbal style.
Did you abandon your studies at some time? Perhaps it’s time to go back to school. If you cannot attend full-time, then perhaps take a course here or there to refresh your skills, or catch up on new information available in your career field.
Associated energies: Wisdom, knowledge, communication via writing, connection to the sacred
Associated seasons: Spring, Summer
Element association: Water, Air
Color associations: White, Black, Red
REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”Mahatma Gandhi
Boy, does the divinatory meaning really speak to me! Perhaps, I need to switch gears and discover a new method of learning. I do enjoy the process of learning something new. Gandhi’s quote makes me think of all the libraries in the world, and how I would never be able to read all these books within my lifetime. I enjoy gleaning from other’s experiences and book reviews. Roy’s quote brings some dimension to the phrase, “you live and learn.” You gain experience, and learn from it. Repeat. Constantly entering a different place or phase in your life so long as you continue to try out new things.
“The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence; the past is a place of learning, not a place of living.”Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart