Rare Birds Visit Malibu Lagoon

Vermilion Flycatcher

Two more rare migrant birds were spotted at Malibu Lagoon last week—Vermilion Flycatcher and White-faced Ibis.

According to the Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society (SMBAS), which includes Malibu and keeps records of the birds spotted at the Malibu Lagoon, the White-faced Ibis has only been seen on about 1.5 percent of their visits.

The most recent SMBAS blog had some interesting trivia about the Ibis—they’re members of the same family as Spoonbills and currently classified in the same order as pelicans, herons and egrets.

The best known ibis is the Sacred ibis, associated with Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom. An ibis on a perch is the first letter of the Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet. Sacred ibises were frequently mummified—1.75 million carcasses were found at Saqqara burial grounds in Egypt.

These photos capture the glossy-green color of the wings and back, which is only visible in good light. The “white face” refers to the border of the fleshy pinkish-gray area between the eyes and base of the bill. This bird appears to be a juvenile. In adults, the eye is redder, the facial skin becomes bright pink or red, the white border becomes more obvious and the plumage becomes green-and-bronze.

Vermilion Flycatchers are considered to be “scarce” along the Southern California coast, and mostly live in Mexico.