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Fr: Jabiru d’Amérique
All : Jabiru
Esp : Jabirú Americano
Ital : Cicogna jabiru
Nd: Jabiroe
Sd: Jabirustork
Port (Brésil): Tuiuiú


Marc Chrétien

Philippe et Aline Wolfer

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF MEXICO AND NORTHERN CENTRAL AMERICA by  Steve N. G. Howell, Sophie Webb - Oxford University Press - ISBN: 0198540124

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF COLOMBIA by Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown - Princeton University Press – ISBN 069108372X

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

Wikipedia (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)


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Jabiru mycteria

Ciconiiforme Order – Ciconiidae Family

Length/Height: 122-140 cm
Wingspan: 230-260 cm
Weight: 8 kg
Length of the beak: 30-33 cm

The Jabiru is a large stork of the Americas, and probably the tallest flying bird of Central and South America.

Adult has white body plumage.
Head and neck are bare and black, except a broad red band around the neck base. The nape shows a down-like whitish feathering.
The massive bill is upturned and black. Eyes are dark brown. The long legs and the feet are black.

Both adults are similar in plumage, but the male is larger than the female and has longer bill.
Immature is rather brownish-grey, and becomes whiter little by little while growing up. 
Chick is covered in white down and shows a black collar at neck base. The bill is black.

The Jabiru, as most storks, is often silent but not voiceless. Mainly at breeding sites, they produce various vocalizations and noises.
The common “up-down” greeting display is usually accompanied by more or less vocal noises such as hisses or fizz.
This stork performs a certain amount of bill-clattering, but much reduced compared to the European White Stork

The Jabiru frequents the wet areas such as large fresh water marshes, rice fields, swampy woodlands, savannas with ponds, lagoons, banks of rivers or lakes with scattered trees, estuaries, and flooded areas.
In dry season, it is found in shallow pools without vegetation, but during the wet period, it frequents the deeper water of flooded areas.

The Jabiru is found from Mexico, through Central America, and northern South America to N Argentina and Uruguay.
Outside the breeding season, some small flocks congregate with other Ciconiiformes, whereas when breeding, they are much more solitary. 
Some movements are observed across the Andes in Peru, and some studies suggest that birds may move from Pantanal of Brazil to Chaco zone of Argentina. It may be vagrant to Texas and Oklahoma.

The Jabiru lives in wet areas and feeds primarily on aquatic preys such as fish (mainly eels), molluscs a  nd amphibians, but also young caimans and turtles, and snakes. It also takes aquatic insects.
It walks steadily in shallow water and regularly stabs and pecks at preys. It splashes the bill into the water to disturb the prey and then, it catches one of them.
It hunts by tactile prey location, thanks to the bill tip, and by watching for preys while walking. It may carry the fish to the shore where it is easier to hold it. The large preys are often dismembered before to be swallowed.

It locates the young caiman while it produces alarm calls, and when it is caught, the Jabiru often beats it against a hard surface, log or stone.    

They can feed in flocks of 10 to 50 birds during the dry season, leading the fishes into shallow water where it will be easier to catch them. They hunt in concerted fashion. They also perform piracy from storks and ibises. But during the wet season, the Jabiru is more solitary.

The Jabirus seems to stay together for life, and the displays to strengthen the pair-bonds are reduced because they do not require regular confirmation.
However, during the displays, the inflatable pouch increases in volume, making conspicuous the contrast between black and red areas.

The Jabiru displays at the feeding areas, dashing about in the water while performing strong wing-flapping. They also perform mutual preening, always to strengthen the pair-bonds.
Aggression displays are rare outside the breeding season, and often limited to a “forwards-display” by the potential predator, and an “upright-display” by the attacked bird.

The Jabiru has large wings for soaring. The large and heavy body does not allow sustained flapping flight, and the bird is dependent on this method.     

Breeding season varies according to the range.
The Jabiru often nests solitary or in small colonies of 5-6 nests together, and also sometimes associated with other Ciconiiformes.
The nest is made at treetop, on the crown of a tall palm tree which centre is stamped down by one bird. But after successive years, the tree dies because this species returns to the same nest-site.

Both adults build the nest. Usually, the male brings materials to the female and she arranges them. The huge nest is made with sticks and mud, and materials are added each year, making the structure very large.

Female usually lays 3-4 eggs and incubation lasts about one month. The white downy chicks are fed by regurgitation by both parents, and depend on them for food after fledging during two months more. They fledge about 80-90 days after hatching. 

The Jabiru feeds on various aquatic preys such as fish, mainly eels, molluscs, crustaceans, amphibians, snakes, young caimans and turtles, and insects.
They walk slowly in shallows, regularly stabbing and pecking at preys with the bill.

Currently, the Jabiru is not threatened, but according to the range, some populations are very small as in Central America.
In Mexico, the numbers decrease due to habitat loss and human developments, hunting and disturbances. In other parts of the range, predation by Crested Caracara may involve nest failures.
But the species is still considered as widespread and abundant in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
It is hunted for food on Amazon, and especially the fat young.

© Philippe Wolfer