Jabiru

One of the tallest flying birds of Americas

Andreas Trepte

A symbol of the wetlands across Central and South America. This stork is one of the largest birds in the Americas, and its appearance is as striking as its size. The Jabiru’s large, slightly upturned black bill is one of its most distinctive features, perfectly designed for catching a variety of prey. The bird’s bare black head and neck are contrasted by a distinctive red band at the base, which can swell and brighten in color during courtship or as a sign of agitation.

Jabirus are typically found wading in shallow waters of swamps, ponds, marshes, and rivers from Mexico all the way down to Argentina. Unlike many bird species, they do not migrate, but instead, they have adapted to a variety of wetland habitats across a broad geographic range. Their preference for wetlands is related to their diet, which mainly consists of fish, amphibians, mollusks, and occasionally small mammals and reptiles. The Jabiru’s foraging strategy often involves standing still and waiting for prey to come within reach or slowly stalking through the shallows to surprise unsuspecting fish.

Socially, Jabirus can occasionally be seen foraging in groups, especially during periods when food is abundant. These “fishing parties” can become quite competitive, with birds sometimes pilfering catches from one another, particularly during the dry season when food resources are more scarce.

The nesting behavior of the Jabiru is particularly notable. These storks build massive nests, often atop tall trees or even on man-made structures, which are reused and enlarged each year. The nest can become quite large over time as new layers are added.

Jabirus are sensitive to human disturbance, particularly near their nesting sites. They require undisturbed wetlands to breed successfully, and as such, they are indicators of the health of their ecosystems. Where Jabirus thrives, it often means that the wetland ecosystem is also healthy.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Argentina
2019
Belize
2019
Bolivia
2019
Brazil
2019
Colombia
2019
Costa Rica
2019
Ecuador
2019
El Salvador
2019
Seasonality Uncertain
French Guiana
2019
Grenada
2019
Seasonality Uncertain
Guatemala
2019
Guyana
2019
Honduras
2019
Mexico
2019
Nicaragua
2019
Panama
2019
Seasonality Uncertain
Paraguay
2019
Peru
2019
Suriname
2019
Trinidad & Tobago
2019
Seasonality Uncertain
United States
2019
Seasonality Uncertain
Uruguay
2019
Seasonality Uncertain
Venezuela
2019

Did you know?

  • The red skin swells like a bladder when a bird gets wounded, enraged, or even excited, changing color to intensely scarlet.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No