Scarlet Ibises have slightly webbed feet and a thin, down-curved bill. They fly with the bill forward and neck held straight. All ibises are long-legged and long-necked wading birds. The scarlet color of this 22 inch long bird fades when the bird is deprived of its natural food but addition of shrimp to the zoo diet helps to restore the color. The bill is like that of a curlew. Females and males are identical in coloration, but the male's body size and bill length are much larger.
Once pursued by hunters for its brilliant plumage and reputed good-tasting flesh, the scarlet ibis is now protected. In 1961, 24 South American scarlet ibis eggs were placed in American white ibis nests in Florida. Seventeen hatched and years of cross-breeding between the scarlet and white ibises has produced pink ibises and other hybrid shades.