This is the most widespread ibis species, breeding in scattered sites in warm regions of Europe
, and the Atlantic
regions of the Americas
It is thought to have originated in the Old World
and spread naturally from Africa to northern South America
in the 19th century, from where it spread to North America.
The glossy ibis was first found in the New World in 1817 (New Jersey). Audubon saw the species just once in Florida in 1832. It expanded its range substantially northwards in the 1940s and to the west in the 1980s.
This species is migratory
; most European birds winter in Africa, and in North America
birds from north of the Carolinas
winter farther south. Birds from other populations may disperse widely outside the breeding season. While generally declining in Europe, it has recently established a breeding colony in southern Spain
, and there appears to be a growing trend for the Spanish birds to winter in Britain
, with at least 22 sightings in 2010.
In 2014, a pair attempted to breed in Lincolnshire
, the first such attempt in Britain 
A few birds now spend the summer in Ireland, but as yet there is no evidence of breeding there. The diet of the glossy ibis is variable according to the season and is very dependent on what is available. Prey includes adult and larval insects
such as aquatic beetles
) and occasionally fish
, small snakes
and nestling birds.