Jabiru Stork

Jabiru mycteria

Photo source:www.discoverlife.org
© Copyright Tom Stephenson, 2006-2011


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Ciconiiformes

Family: Ciconiidae

Genus: Jabiru

Species: J. mycteria


Jabiru mycteria is an extraordinary bird that is one of the largest birds in the New World. They are also the tallest flying bird in South America, standing at about an average of 5 feet and have a wingspan of 8 feet. It has a heavy, black beak that is normally 12 inches long. Its heavy beak is significantly designed to catch its preys ("The Belize Zoo"). Its body feathering is white and the skin on the head is hairless and black in color, which blends in with its beak. It has a little white mohawk on top of its head. Jabiru males have a straighter beak than females. The upper portion of its neck is black; the lower portion of its neck lays a scarlet red colored band of skin that is about 7-8 cm in length. Both males and females have black legs and feet; males are distinctively larger than females.

Life History & Ecology:

  • Range and Habitat:

Jabiru mycteria resides in the Neotropical region, ranging from Southern Mexico through Central America and Northern South America to North Argentina. Although jabiru are found in all these countries, it is most common in the wetland regions of Brazil and Paraguay ("Storks (Ciconiidae)"). Jabiru can be found in savannas, costal lagoons and marshes ("The Belize Zoo"). They usually live in large groups and prefer wetlands and riparian habitats. Riparian habitats are usually in tropical rainforests. Although jabirus prefer wetlands, they can also be seen in freshwater marshes and like flooded areas. In drier seasons, it can be found in shallow pools.

  • Diet:

Jabiru mycteria uses its heavy 12-inched long bill to find and catch its preys. They feed on all kinds of aquatic animals, mostly on fish, mollusks, and amphibians ("Jabiru mycteria"). They also feed on reptiles like frogs and snakes, mollusks, even insects and small mammals. During dry seasons, they’re known for eating carrion and dead fishes. Jabirus feed in groups together and usually search for food by searching through shallow water.

  • Reproduction:

When Jabiru Storks reproduce, they are considered monogamous. They are considered seasonal breeders, oviparous, and reproduce sexually. Males establish a nest of sticks 15-30m up a treetop and are approached by females. Females usually lays 3-4 eggs and incubation lasts about one month. They receive parental care from both sexes and nurturing chicks are so tough to where birds tend to mate every other breeding season ("Jabiru mycteria").

  • Behavior:

Jabiru can be quite social in its behavior although it doesn’t appear in massive numbers. Birds usually feed in the same location depending on preys existing ("Jabiru"). Jabirus have a pleasant way of greeting one another. When they greet, they face one another while in their nests, holding their necks upright and heads high; they rattle their beaks very quick and loud while waving their necks from side to side and moving their heads up and down. When their throat sac gets expanded, this shows other birds that they’re eager and excited ("Jabiru mycteria"). Although they have a wingspan of about 8 feet, their flapping is rather slow, flapping at about 180 flaps per minute (McKinley). They also take their timing when walking and walk slowly; they only use a slight speed when searching for a prey.

  • Conservation:

At the moment, Jabiru mycteria is not considered endangered, but it is very small in population in Central America. It gained protected status in Belize in 1973 ("Jabiru Stork - Jabiru mycteria"). In Mexico, the population has also declined due to human development, hunting, disturbances, and habitat lost. On a brighter note, it is still plentiful in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

  • Recent Research:

There has been a recent study that defines Belize, Central America as the healthiest breeding population of jabiru for all of Central America. They migrate from Mexico and arrive to Belize in the month of November and nest in the tall pines of the savannas and marshes of the Belizean lowlands. Jabiru stay in Belize until June or July. They leave after the first rain rushes through and continue their migration flying up north ("The Belize Zoo").

Interesting facts:

  • Jabiru mycteria is the only member of the genus Jabiru.
  • A nickname for Jabiru mycteria is “Garzon Soldier”.
  • Its unusual name comes from a word in a Tupi-Guaraní language, meaning “swollen neck”.

Economic/Ecological Service:

Since jabiru eats dead fish and carrion, it cleanses the bodies of waters after droughts and after the fishes die off, which prevents the spread of disease and prevents diseases from developing. This is a positive ecology aspect that all jabiru carry.

Jabiru mycteria also plays an important role in the economic aspect for humans. Before they were protected, humans hunted them for their meat and feathers. Their feathers can be used for clothing and other valuable materials. Now that they are protected, people can benefit from them economically by serving as a great tourist attraction and can be used as an interesting research project. With the money made from this, this can help the local community and help advance economical situations.

Links of Interest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwWOoDEctHU Mother feeding youngs in a nest

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzcZzz1gnSc Jabiru Stork preying for fish

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXQL6ejm8j8 Jabiru Stork at Belize Zoo


"Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)." Planet of Birds. Planet of Birds., n.d. Web. 21 May 2013. <http://www.planetofbirds.com/ciconiiformes-ciconiidae-jabiru-jabiru-mycteria>.

"Jabiru mycteria." Encyclopedia of Life. N.p.. Web. 21 May 2013.< http://eol.org/pages/1048014/details>.

"Jabiru." South Dakota Birds and Birding. N.p., 9 Jul 2012. Web. 22 May 2013.< http://sdakotabirds.com/species/jabiru_info.htm>.

"Jabiru Stork - Jabiru mycteria." Carnivora. Bravenet Free Counter, 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 22 May 2013. <http://carnivoraforum.com/topic/9710554/1/>.

McKinley, A. 2006. "Jabiru mycteria" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Web. May 22, 2013. <http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Jabiru_mycteria/>.

"Mystery bird: jabirú, Jabiru mycteria ." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. Web. 22 May 2013.< http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/jul/05/1>.

Ramos-Ordoñez, M.F., C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González& M.C. Arizmendi. 2010. Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=117756

Stephenson, Tom. "Jabiru mycteria." http://www.discoverlife.org. Polistes Corporation. Web. 17 May 2013.< http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20p?see=I_TS119&res=640>.

"Storks (Ciconiidae)." http://ibc.lynxeds.com. N.p.. Web. 21 May 2013.< http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/jabiru-jabiru-mycteria>.

"The Belize Zoo." http://www.belizezoo.org. N.p.. Web. 18 May 2013.< http://www.belizezoo.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72&Itemid=118>.