Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)


[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ciconiidae | [latin] Jabiru mycteria | [authority] Lichtenstein, 1819 | [UK] Jabiru | [FR] Jabiru d’Amerique | [DE] Jaribu | [ES] Jabiru Americano | [NL] Jabiroe


Monotypic species


The Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) is a large stork found in the Americas from Mexico to Argentina, except west of the Andes. It is most common in the Pantanal region of Brazil and the Eastern Chaco region of Paraguay. It is the only member of the genus Jabiru. The name comes from the Tupi-Guarana language and means “swollen neck”. The name Jabiru has also been used for two other birds of a distinct genus: the Asian Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), commonly called “Jabiru” in Australia; and sometimes also for the Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) of sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, Gardiner’s Egyptian hieroglyph G29, believed to depict an E. senegalensis, is sometimes labeled “Jabiru” in hieroglyph lists. The proposed Late Pleistocene fossil stork genus Prociconia from Brazil might actually belong in Jabiru. A fossil species of jabiru was found in the early Pliocene Codore Formation near Urumaco, Venezuela

Physical charateristics

Jabiru can grow as tall as 1.15 m and weigh as much as 8 kg. Their wingspan averages 2.6 m. The beak is upturned, black, and broad, and can extend to 30 cm. The plumage is white, the skin on the head and neck are featherless and black. On the top of the head there is a silver tuft of hair. There is a 75 mm band of skin around the lower portion of the neck. When jabiru are inactive, the band is a deep pink. When they are irritated, it turns a deep scarlet color. Jabiru also have a featherless red pouch at the base of the neck. Both genders have dark brown irises and black legs and feet. An oval of pink skin is located just above the sternum, but is only visible when the bird is erect just before take-off. Males are noticeably larger than females and have a larger and straighter bill.

Listen to the sound of Jabiru


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Allen T. Chartier

wingspan min.: 230 cm wingspan max.: 250 cm
size min.: 122 cm size max.: 140 cm
incubation min.: 27 days incubation max.: 32 days
fledging min.: 80 days fledging max.: 32 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Latin America : South Mexico to North Argentina


Jabiru are found near rivers and ponds, usually in large groups. They prefer open wetlands, especially flooded savannas. They are also seen in freshwater marshes and open country that is near water. These birds usually build their nests atop tall trees.


In feeding pairs (they are monogamous), wing-flapping exhibits are believed to be a form of courtship behavior. During courtship, males establish themselves at a nest site. A female then approaches a male until he accepts her presence. Females are most often rejected. During copulation, males step onto a female’s back from the side, hooking his toes over her shoulders and bending his legs for contact. The female opens her wings while the male flaps his slowly for balance. The male shakes his head and clatters his bill alongside the female’s bill throughout copulation. Male and female jabiru stay together for at least one breeding season, possibly staying together through multiple breeding seasons .

Jabiru begin gathering to mate near the end of the rainy season. Most breeding occurs from December to May. Nests are usually located within 1 km of other jabiru nests. Jabiru nests are found 15-30 m above ground in isolated, tall trees. These trees are usually near riparian forests or wetlands. Nests are often deeper than they are wide, they can be up to 1 m wide and 1.8 m deep. Nests are usually made of sticks and woody debris. The average clutch size is around 3 (range 2 to 5) eggs. When nestlings are four weeks old, the parents start leaving them by themselves for more extended periods of time. Young birds fledge around 110 days after hatching, although they remain dependent on their parents. Jabiru pairs spend six to seven months a year involving themselves in reproductive tasks. Because of this long length of time spent breeding, pairs have difficulty breeding in successive years.

Both males and females are involved in nest building, incubation, and care of the young. During incubation and the nestling stage, one parent watches over the nest while the other forages. The pairs stay in isolated breeding areas until the nestlings fledge. They exhibit strong territoriality near their nest and feeding areas.

Feeding habits

Jabiru consume large amounts of fish, mollusks, insects, and amphibians. They may also eat reptiles and small mammals. During dry seasons, they have been known to eat carrion and dead fish. They feed in flocks and usually forage by wading in shallow water. They detect prey more through tactile sensation than vision. They feed by holding their open bill at a 45 degree angle to the water. When prey is contacted, they close their bill, draw it out of the water, and throw their head back to swallow.

Video Jabiru


copyright: youtube


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Jabiru are found in the Americas west of the Andes. They are found as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina and are most commonly found in wetland regions of Brazil and Paraguay. Jabiru have been spotted in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela, with rare sightings as far north as Texas.
Jabiru status Least Concern


Movements after breeding season, small groups tend to congregate, often with other Ciconiiformes. Jabiru do not migrate, although they do move within a large range throughout the year, seeking optimal foraging areas. They are much more scattered when breeding. Sometimes crosses Andes in Peru. Preliminary results of study using radio-tracking in Pantanal of Brazil suggests birds may move to Chaco zone of Argentina, Nov-Jun. Vagrant to Texas and Oklahoma, USA.

Distribution map

Jabiru distribution range map

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