Have you ever seen an ibis? If you do, it is said to bring good luck, especially if you wear one of the bird’s feathers. Perhaps, this is just what we need for the New Year. Don’t you agree that Americans could use some good luck? My beautiful granddaughter was amazed the other day as she looked out of her window to see not one, but sixteen of these sacred birds. I hope one of them left a feather for good luck!
The ibis is related to the heron and stork family. White ibises are considered “wetland birds,” as they are found around water in marshes and other wetland areas. They are found foraging for small fish and crustaceans in shallow areas of water, even in yards or parks in Southern Florida. This bird is easily identifiable by its long, slender, curved bill and its reddish pink legs. It is “larger than a Cattle Egret, but smaller than a Great Egret.”
The white ibis is most commonly found in Florida, and the Caribbean, but their range includes Baja, California and south to the coasts of Mexico. They have even been found in Columbia and Venezuela. During non-breeding season, they may be seen in states outside their typical range of habitation, such as East Texas and north to Virginia.
The American white ibis is largely monogamous, but the male, after mating with its monogamous partner, will sometimes mate with other females which ensures the success of maintaining its numbers. However, the human impact on male fertility is the result of a pollutant methylmercury, a known neurotoxin. Not only were males less fertile, but male to male copulation was increased by 55% as a result of this pollutant.
The ibis was revered by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of the Moon god Thoth. Priests raised and sacrificed millions of ibises to their Moon god. Even the Pharaohs were buried with their sacred ibises to ensure entry into the afterlife. At the University of Miami, the ibis named Sebastian is their mascot. Sebastian became the official mascot in 1958 when a student wore an ibis suit and performed at a football game. However, there is a deeper meaning to selecting an ibis as a mascot. It is said in Native American folklore that the ibis, warning of danger, is the last to seek shelter prior to a hurricane and the first to emerge after it passes.
Therefore, the ibis is not only a bearer of good fortune, but can foretell danger as well. It is, indeed, a strange, even magical bird. May it bring us good luck in 2021!
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