After a 400-Year Absence, A Rare Ibis Returns to European Skies

In the last decade, scientists have helped reestablish a migrating population of northern bald ibises in Europe. Waldrappteam / LIFE Northern Bald Ibis

After a 400-Year Absence, A Rare Ibis Returns to European Skies

The northern bald ibis is critically endangered, with fewer than 1,000 existing in the wild. But a German group is reintroducing these birds in Europe, where they once thrived, and is using ultralight aircraft to lead them on migrations south toward the Mediterranean.

By Christian Schwägerl July 16, 2018

 

With its black body and wide wings, the bird flying along Austria’s Salzach Valley on a mild summer day looks, at first glance, a lot like a crow. But when it lands in a nearby meadow, it quickly becomes clear that this is a very different animal.

The bird’s iridescent feathers give it an almost magical appearance. Its long, curved beak enables it to hunt for small animals, and its naked head, with feathers that point straight into the air, Mohawk-style, make it look like no other bird in Europe…