Jabiru mycteria is a stork native to Central and South America, from Mexico to Uruguay, occurring most commonly in Brazil and Paraguay. They are the tallest flying bird in South America, reaching up to 5 ft (1.5m) in height. They live in groups in wetland and riparian habitats, eating mostly fish, mollusks, and amphibians. Jabiru mycteria is the only member of the Jabiru genus.
Males establish a nest of sticks 15-30m up a tree and are approached by females. Pairs are monogamous throughout the breeding season and sometimes across seasons. They show parental investment by both sexes and rearing chicks is sufficiently difficult that these birds tend to mate every other breeding season.
Jabiru are found in the Western Hemisphere, as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina. They are most common 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.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )
- UNEP-WCMC, 2006. "UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre" (On-line). CITES Species Database. Accessed April 06, 2006 at http://www.unep-wcmc.org/index.html?http://sea.unep-wcmc.org/isdb/CITES/Taxonomy/tax-species-result.cfm?Genus=Jabiru&Species=mycteria&source=animals~main.
- Wikipedia, 2006. "Jabiru" (On-line). Accessed April 06, 2006 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabiru.
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.
Range mass: 8000 (high) g.
Range length: 1.15 (high) m.
Average wingspan: 2.6 m.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
- Kahl, M. 1971. Observations on the Jabiru and Maguari Storks in Argentina, 1969. The Condor, 73: 220-224.
Belizean Pine Forests Habitat
This species is found in the Belizean pine forests along the Central America's northwestern Caribbean Sea coast; the ecoregion exhibits relatively well preserved fragments of vegetation as well as a considerable abundance of fauna. This ecoregion comprises a geographically small portion of the total land area of the ecoregions of Belize. There is relatively low endemism in the Belizean pine forests, and only a moderate species richness here; for example, only 447 vertebrate taxa have been recorded in the ecoregion. The ecoregion represents one of the few examples of lowland and premontane pine forests in the Neotropics, where the dominant tree species is Honduran Pine (Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis), which requires periodic low intensity burns for its regeneration. The vegetation is adapted to the xeric, acidic and nutrient-poor conditions that occur primarily in the dry season.
In the forest of the Maya Mountains, vegetation reaches higher altitudes, the topography is more rugged and crossed by various rivers, and nighttime temperatures are lower. The pine trees are larger and numerous, and the pine forest intersects other formations of interest such as rainforest, Cohune Palm (corozal), cactus associations, and others. About eleven percent of Belize is covered by natural pine vegetation. Only two percent represents totally closed forests; three percent semi-closed forests; and the remaining six percent pine savannas, that occupy coastal areas and contain isolated pine trees or stands of pine trees separated by extensive pastures. In addition to human activity, edaphic factors are a determining matter in this distribution, since the forests on the northern plain and southern coastal zone are on sandy soils or sandy-clay soils and usually have less drainage than the more fertile soils in the center of the country.
At elevations of 650 to 700 metres, the forests transition to premontane in terms of vegetation. At these higher levels, representative tree species are Egg-cone Pine (Pinus oocarpa), which crosses with Honduras Pine (P. hondurensis), where distributions overlap, although belonging to subsections of different genera; British Honduras Yellowwood (Podocarpus guatemalensis) and Quercus spp.; moreover, and in even more moist areas there is a predominance of Jelecote Pine (Pinus patula), together with the palm Euterpe precatoria var. longivaginata and the arboreal ferns Cyathea myosuroides and Hemitelia multiflora.
A number of reptilian species are found in the Belizean pine forests, including: Guatemala Neckband Snake (Scaphiodontophis annulatus); Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais); On the coasts, interior lakes and rivers of Belize and by extension in this ecoregion there are two species of threatened crocodiles: American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and Morelet's Crocodile (C. moreletii), while observation of the Central American River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii CR) is not uncommon in this ecoregion.
Also to be noted is the use of this habitat by the Mexican Black Howler (Alouatta pigra), which can be considered the most endangered howler monkey of the genus, and the Central American spider monkey (Atteles geoffroyi). Both species experienced a decline due to the epidemic yellow fever that swept the country in the 1950s. The five feline species that exist in Belize: Jaguar (Panthera onca), Puma (F. concolor), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Margay (Leopardus wiedii) and Jaguarundí (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) are in appendix I of CITES, as well as the Central American tapir (Tapirus bairdii) can been seen with relative frequency. Belize has the highest density of felines in Central America. The tapir is abundant around rivers. The White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari) is also present in the ecoregion.
Although most of the amphibians and reptiles are found in humid premontane and lowland forests, the only endemic frog in this ecoregion, Maya Mountains Frog (Lithobates juliani), is restricted to the Mountain Pine Ridge in the Maya Mountains. Salamanders in the ecoregion are represented by the Alta Verapaz Salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini NT), whose males are arboreal, while females live under logs. Anuran taxa found in the ecoregion include: Rio Grande Frog (Lithobates berlandieri); Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus); Northern Sheep Frog (Hypopachus variolosus); Stauffer's Long-nosed Treefrog (Scinax staufferi); and Tungara Treefrog (Engystomops pustulosus).
Present in the ecoregion are a number of avian species, including the endangered Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot (Amazona oratrix EN), although this bird is adversely affected by ongoing habitat destruction. Of particular interest is the presence in this ecoregion of Central America's highest procreative colony of Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria), a large migratory bird, particularly in the Crooked Tree sanctuary, on the country's northern plains.
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.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial ; freshwater
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland
Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams
Wetlands: marsh ; swamp
Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian
- Belize Zoo, 2006. "The Belize Zoo" (On-line). Jabiru Stork. Accessed April 04, 2006 at http://www.belizezoo.org/zoo/zoo/birds/jab/jab1.html.
- Grosset, A. 2005. "Jabiru Mycteria" (On-line). Accessed April 06, 2006 at http://www.arthurgrosset.com/sabirds/jabiru.html.
Habitat and Ecology
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.
Animal Foods: mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; carrion ; mollusks
Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Molluscivore )
- Morgan, C. 2005. "eNature Nature Guides" (On-line). Jabiru. Accessed April 02, 2006 at http://www.enature.com/flashcard/show_flash_card.asp?recordNumber=BD0613.
Jabiru have been known to eat dead fish and carrion, effectively preventing spread and development of disease and improving the quality of isolated bodies of water after droughts or fish die-offs. They also impact populations of preferred prey, such as small fish, mollusks, and amphibians.
Other jabiru and wood storks (Mycteria americana) have been known to attack jabiru nests. Humans are the primary predators of jabiru. Before jabiru were protected nestlings were hunted for meat. Jabiru are large birds that can effectively defend themselves and their young when confronted by most predators.
- jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)
- wood storks (Mycteria americana)
- humans (Homo sapiens)
Life History and Behavior
All jabiru have a greeting display. In this display, they face each other in their nests, holding their necks erect and heads high. They clatter their bills loudly and rapidly while waving their necks from sided to side and moving their heads up and down. The presence of an inflatable throat sac also indicates to other birds when they are excited. There is undoubtedly communication that occurs among parents and young, but this has not been well documented. Jabiru are not highly vocal.
Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
- Slikas, B. 1998. Recognizing and Testing Homology of Courtship Displays in Storks. Evolution, 52: 886-888.
Jabiru, like most storks, have an average lifespan of about 30 years, although some have been known to live past the age of 40.
Status: wild: 30 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 36.0 years.
- San Diego Zoo, 2006. "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Stork" (On-line). Birds: Stork. Accessed April 08, 2006 at http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-stork.html.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
In breeding pairs, 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.
Mating System: monogamous
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 with an average hatching success of 44%. 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. Less than half of active pairs in one season are active the next season. Only 25% of successful pairs are successful the next season.
Breeding interval: About half of adult jabirus mate each year, most jabiru mate every other year.
Breeding season: Breeding occurs from December to May.
Range eggs per season: 2 to 5.
Average eggs per season: 3.14.
Range time to hatching: 1 to 3 months.
Average fledging age: 100 days.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
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.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
- Barnhill, R., D. Weyer, W. Young, K. Smith, D. James. 2005. Breeding Biology of Jabirus in Belize. The Wilson Bulletin, 117: 142-153.
- Kahl, M. 1971. Observations on the Jabiru and Maguari Storks in Argentina, 1969. The Condor, 73: 220-224.
- Kahl, M. 1973. Comparative Ethology of the Ciconiidae. The Condor, 75: 19-24.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Jabiru mycteria
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Jabiru mycteria
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Jabiru gained protected status in Belize in 1973. Since then, there numbers in that area have slowly risen. They have been granted protected status by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act. Jabiru are widespread but not abundant in any area. They are considered a species of least concern by the IUCN, an improvement from a status of near-threatened in 1988.
US Migratory Bird Act: protected
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix i
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no negative impacts of jabiru on humans.
Before jabiru were protected they were hunted for their meat and feathers. Jabiru are important members of healthy ecosystems, drawing bird enthusiasts to natural areas.
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism
The jabiru (// or //; Latin: 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 a Tupi–Guaraní language and means "swollen neck".
Etymology and origins
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 Ephippiorhynchus are believed to be the jabiru's closest living cousins, indicating an Old World origin for the species.
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 (Walsh & Sánchez 2008).
In Portuguese, the bird is called jabiru, jaburu, tuiuiu, tuim-de-papo-vermelho ("red-necked tuim", in Mato Grosso) and cauauá (in the Amazon Basin). The name tuiuiu is also used in southern Brazil for the wood stork (Mycteria americana).
The jabiru is the tallest flying bird found in South America and Central America, often standing nearly the same height as the flightless and thus much heavier American rhea. For the continent, it also has the second largest wingspan, after the Andean condor (that is, excluding the great albatross occasionally found off the coast of southern South America). The adult jabiru is 120–140 cm (47–55 in) long, 2.3–2.8 m (7.5–9.2 ft) across the wings, and can weigh 4.3–9 kg (9.5–19.8 lb). Sexual dimorphism is high, possibly the highest of any stork, with males being about 25% larger than females. Males weigh an average of 6.89 kg (15.2 lb) whereas females weigh an average of 5.22 kg (11.5 lb). Large males may stand as tall as 1.53 m (5.0 ft). The beak, which measures 25–35 cm (9.8–13.8 in), is black and broad, slightly upturned, ending in a sharp point. Among other standard measurements, the tail measures 20–25 cm (7.9–9.8 in), the tarsus measures 28.5–39 cm (11.2–15.4 in) long and the wing chord measures 58.5–73 cm (23.0–28.7 in). The plumage is mostly white, but the head and upper neck are featherless and black, with a featherless red stretchable pouch at the base. The sexes are similar in appearance but the male is larger, which can be noticeable when the sexes are together. While it can give the impression of being an ungainly bird on the ground, the jabiru is a powerful and graceful flier.
Food and feeding habits
The jabiru lives in large groups near rivers and ponds, and eats prodigious quantities of fish, molluscs, and amphibians. It will occasionally eat reptiles, bird eggs and small mammals. It will even eat fresh carrion and dead fish, such as those that die during dry spells, and thus help maintain the quality of isolated bodies of water. They feed in flocks and usually forage by wading in shallow water. Jabirus 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, the storks close their bill, draw it out of the water, and throw their head back to swallow. It is an opportunistic feeder. In one instance when house mice experienced a population explosion in an agricultural area, and several hundred jabirus could be seen in each field feeding on the rodents (unusual for a bird that's rarely seen in large numbers anywhere). On rare occasions, jabirus have been seen attempting to kleptoparasitize the two smaller storks it co-exists with, the wood and maguari storks.
The nest of sticks is built by both parents around August–September (in the Southern Hemisphere) on tall trees, and enlarged at each succeeding season growing to several meters in diameter. Nests are often deeper than they are wide, they can be up to 1 m (3.3 ft) wide and 1.8 m (5.9 ft) deep. Half a dozen nests may be built in close proximity, sometimes among nests of herons and other birds. The parents take turns incubating the clutch of two to five white eggs and are known to more territorial than usual against other jabirus during the brooding period. Raccoons and other storks (including their own species) are occasion predators of jabiru eggs, but most nest predators appear to avoid these huge-billed birds and there are no known predators of healthy adult jabirus. Although the young fledge around 110 days old, they often spend around another 3 months in the care of their parents. Because of this long length of time spent brooding, pairs have difficulty breeding in successive years. Less than half of active pairs in one season are active the next season. Only 25% of successful pairs are successful the next season. The lifespan average is 36 years.
Jabiru are widespread but not abundant in any area. They are considered a species of least concern by the IUCN, an improvement from a status of near threatened in 1988. Jabiru gained protected status in Belize in 1973. Since then, their numbers in that area have slowly risen. They have been granted protected status by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Jabiru mycteria". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Hancock & Kushan, Storks, Ibises and Spoonbills of the World. Princeton University Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-12-322730-0
- CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses, 2nd Edition by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (2008), ISBN 978-1-4200-6444-5.
- ADW- Jabiru mycteria- Information (2011).
- Walsh, S. A. & Sánchez, R. 2008. The first Cenozoic fossil bird from Venezuela. Paläontologische Zeitschrift 82(2), 105-112.