Behind the Gate
Our Florida yards feed an itinerant white ibis flock, and they graze assiduously next door at the Katz’s. Features of an ibis include a pink-red decurved bill, white wings with black tips, and icy irises. Although common in southwest Florida, ibises appear exotic to visitors more familiar with ancient history than ornithology. They remember ibis mummies offered to the ibis-headed Thoth, and how each was sarcophagus-packed before being stacked in a catacomb not far from grassy Nile marshes where the birds had lived. Although ibises don’t have hallowed status in my community, they are state and federally protected, which serves them well in this life. But further south in the Everglades, where status is more complex, they are well-known as Chokoloskee Chickens, and are quite tasty, I’m told.