Jabiru

Jabiru mycteria

Last updated: October 11, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

They form lifelong pair bonds and live in groups near water sources.

Jabiru Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Ciconiiformes
Family
Ciconiidae
Genus
Jabiru
Scientific Name
Jabiru mycteria

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Jabiru Conservation Status


Jabiru Facts

Prey
fish, snakes, reptiles, frogs, fresh carrion, insects, and other invertebrates.
Main Prey
Fish
Name Of Young
Hatchlings
Group Behavior
  • Social
Fun Fact
They form lifelong pair bonds and live in groups near water sources.
Estimated Population Size
20,000 to 85,000
Biggest Threat
habitat loss
Most Distinctive Feature
Red expandable throat pouch
Distinctive Feature
long, sharp bill
Wingspan
7.5 to 9.2 feet
Incubation Period
One month
Age Of Independence
6 months
Age Of Fledgling
110 days
Habitat
savannas, coastal lagoons, rainforests, and marshes
Predators
raccoons and other storks
Diet
Carnivore
Lifestyle
  • Diurnal
Type
Bird
Common Name
Jabiru
Location
Central America, South America
Average Clutch Size
-2
Nesting Location
Tall trees

Jabiru Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Red
  • Black
  • White
Skin Type
Feathers
Lifespan
36 years
Weight
9.5 to 19.8 pounds
Length
47 to 55 inches

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Look for them in large groups, wading in shallow water.

Summary

The jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) is a large stork native to Central and South America. It inhabits wetlands and riparian habitats, where it spends its days wading in shallow water, waiting for fish and other creatures to swim in its open mouth. This species was near threatened in the 1980s from overhunting but has since made a comeback. Find out everything there is to know about this stork, including where to find it, what it eats, and how it behaves.

5 Amazing Jabiru Facts

  • You can most commonly find the jabiru in Paraguay and Brazil. While it has an extensive range, it is not abundant in any part.
  • They form lifelong pair bonds and live in groups near water sources.
  • These storks place their enormous platform nests on tall trees, adding material to them every year.
  • Males are 25% larger than females. But both sexes have similar features and plumage.
  • They can swallow fish up to eight inches long.

Where to Find the Jabiru

The jabiru lives in the Americas in at least 17 countries, including Argentina, Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico. You can find them from Mexico to Argentina, except for the areas west of the Andes. Occasionally, they wander into the United States but do not typically leave the Texas region. While this species is widespread, it is not common in its range. Your best chance to view one of these birds is in Paraguay or Brazil. They live in wetland and riparian habitats, such as savannas, coastal lagoons, rainforests, and marshes. Look for them in large groups, wading in shallow water. 

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Jabiru Nest

Jabiru nest near herons and other birds and build extensive platforms they return to each year. Both sexes make the nest using sticks and twigs, often more profound than they are wide. They place their nest on tall trees and enlarge it every year.

Scientific Name

The jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) is from the Ciconiiformes order and Ciconiidae family, which encompasses the storks. It is the only member in its Jabiru genus and means “swollen neck” in the Tupi–Guaraní language. 

Size, Appearance, & Behavior

Jabiru
The Jabiru is a large stork and the tallest flying bird in Central and South America, measuring 47 to 55 inches long and weighing 9.5 to 19.8 pounds, with a 7.5 to 9.2-foot wingspan.

Rini Kools/Shutterstock.com

The Jabiru is a large stork and the tallest flying bird in Central and South America, measuring 47 to 55 inches long and weighing 9.5 to 19.8 pounds, with a 7.5 to 9.2-foot wingspan. Their impressive beaks are broad, sharp, and upturned, measuring 9.8 to 13.8 inches. These birds display sexual dimorphism, with the males being around 25% larger than the females. They have white plumage, black featherless heads and necks, and a stretchable red pouch at the base.

Despite their impressive size, these birds are graceful fliers with solid wingbeats. However, their exact speed is unknown. This species is relatively social, forming lifelong pair bonds and living in large groups near water sources. They even nest with up to 12 other pairs of mixed species. Like other storks, the jabiru is primarily silent. But they occasionally produce some noises such as hissing and bill-clattering.

Migration Pattern and Timing

These birds are nonmigratory. However, they move about an extensive range throughout the year, searching for the best foraging areas. They may wander as far north as the Mississippi in the United States.

Diet

Jabiru birds are opportunistic carnivores who forage in flocks.

What Does the Jabiru Eat?

They eat fish, snakes, reptiles, frogs, fresh carrion, insects, and other invertebrates. While fish may be their food of choice, these birds will take advantage of an overabundance of pests, such as house mice. They wade in shallow waters, typically in flocks, and leave their mouths open until something swims past. They then throw their heads back and swallow, consuming fish up to eight inches long. The jabiru may occasionally steal food from other stork species.

Predators, Threats, and Conservation Status

The IUCN lists the jabiru as LC or “least concern.” Due to its extensive range and moderately large population, this species does not meet the “threatened” status thresholds. Their most significant threats include habitat loss and disturbance at their nesting sites. This bird was near threatened in the 1980s from overhunting but is now a protected species.

What Eats the Jabiru?

Healthy adult jabirus have no known predators, but their nest is vulnerable to raccoons and others storks, including their own species. Parents stand guard to protect their eggs from nest predators, but many creatures avoid these large-billed birds. They stand tall with their necks erect and snap at intruders.

Reproduction, Young, and Molting

Jabiru birds form lifelong pair bonds and live together year-round, returning to the same nesting site each year. Females lay two to five white eggs, and both parents take turns incubating for about one month. The young fledge the nest around 110 days after hatching but spend another three months being cared for by their parents. Most pairs have difficulty breeding every season due to their long brooding times. This species has an average lifespan of 36 years.

Population

The global jabiru population is estimated to number 20,000 to 85,000 mature individuals. Their population trend is unknown and hard to determine, but some reports list the Central South American population as stable. They are not experiencing any extreme fluctuations or fragmentations in their numbers.

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer and content creator focusing on nature, wildlife, food, and travel. She graduated Kappa Beta Delta from Florida State College with a business degree before realizing writing was her true passion. She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and enjoys hiking, reading, and cooking!

Jabiru FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where does the jabiru live?

The jabiru lives in the Americas in at least 17 countries, including Argentina, Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico. You can find them from Mexico to Argentina, except for the areas west of the Andes.

How big is a jabiru?

The Jabiru is a large stork and the tallest flying bird in Central and South America, measuring 47 to 55 inches long and weighing 9.5 to 19.8 pounds, with a 7.5 to 9.2-foot wingspan.

What sounds do jabiru make?

Like other storks, the jabiru is primarily silent. But they occasionally produce some noises such as hissing and bill-clattering.

Do jabiru migrate?

These birds are nonmigratory. However, they move about an extensive range throughout the year, searching for the best foraging areas

What does the jabiru eat?

They eat fish, snakes, reptiles, frogs, fresh carrion, insects, and other invertebrates.

What are jabiru predators?

Healthy adult jabirus have no known predators, but their nest is vulnerable to raccoons and others storks, including their own species.

What threatens the jabiru?

Their most significant threats include habitat loss and disturbance at their nesting sites.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Red List / BirdLife International, Available here: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22697710/163624043
  2. JSTOR, Oxford University Press, The Condor Vol. 73, No. 2, M.P. Kahl, Available here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1365842
  3. JSTOR, Oxford University Press, The Condor Vol. 75, No. 1, Available here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1366532
  4. The Online Guide to the Animals of Trinidad and Tobago, Kevin Lopez, Available here: https://sta.uwi.edu/fst/lifesciences/sites/default/files/lifesciences/documents/ogatt/Jabiru_mycteria%20-%20Jabiru%20Stork.pdf

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