Blue Crab Special

Yesterday afternoon we were watching a few white ibis fishing in the salt marsh (along with our resident grumpy spoonbill, but more on that later) and were very surprised to see this ibis snag a large blue crab. White ibis generally feed on small fish, eels and various marine crustaceans such as little crabs.

This ibis was not at all intimidated by the size of it’s catch, it proceeded to systematically dismantle the crab by snapping off it’s legs one by one. Once the legs are gone the ibis will shake and crunch the remaining portion of the unfortunate crab, and then dine on the yummy insides. After reducing the large crab to a compact piece, the ibis decided to walk over to a more secluded area of the marsh as his friends had begun to pay too much attention to the action! 

Ibis Catches Big Crab

Ibis Catches Big Crab

Ibis Catches Big Crab

Ibis Catches Big Crab

Ibis Catches Big Crab

Ibis Catches Big Crab

Ibis Catches Big Crab

Ibis Catches Big Crab

57 thoughts on “Blue Crab Special

  1. This is a great series, Phil. Hmmm…that phrase sounds familiar. 🙂 I especially like the third one down for the great look at the crab’s legs. And the next to last where you can almost see his cheeks bulging with crabby goodness. 🙂

    • That third photo makes the series in my view and I’m glad I got that because right after that he turned his back to me so those first ones are the only photos where you can really see the whole crab. The ibis basically turn the crab into a hockey puck by snapping off all it’s legs, and then finally, like you say, all that remains is the crabby goodness. 🙂

    • It may seem harsh and I’m sure from the crab’s point of view it is since it’s a matter of survival. I have though seen crabs stick their claws out defiantly at a bird and successfully chase it off. But so it goes in nature.
      Glad you liked these photos!

  2. Thanks Phil,

    We really enjoyed the Ibis with the crab. We don’t know if you noticed but that was a soft-shell crab, much easier for the bird to eat than that last one you sent me with that large old hard-shell. That was a very large soft-shell!!! Have been enjoying all your Photos, keep up the good work!

  3. Yet again, brilliant pictures, Phil! Not only do you manage to be in the right place at the right time but you always seem to know how to get the best out of your beautiful wildlife!

  4. Of course I love these shots for the action! Did not know ibis’ go for big crabs like that. But also I like th colors….the blue eyes of the ibis and orange red coloring next to the blues of the crab. Makes for nice imagery all ’round.

  5. It’s so interesting to see how the ibis manages its catch. I found this fascinating through these great shots. I like how he moved to a more secluded spot….HIS catch!

    • It is fairly typical for an ibis, heron, or egret to move out of the water and away from the area after a nice catch.
      One reason to get out of the water is that if the bird caught a fish and drops it back into the water the fish may swim away and the meal is lost. The other reason to move is that a catch that may take a bit of time to eat will attract all sorts of unwanted attention form other hungry wildlife.
      Of course in this case the ibis was moving to get away from his ‘friends’, that crab wasn’t going anywhere. 🙂

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