Jabiru Fact File

Jabiru mycteria

Credit: Cephas, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 36 years

Captive 36 years



Fish, Amphibians

Conservation Status


Least Concern

The Tallest Bird in the Americas!

The jabiru is the tallest bird found on the American continents. An individual can stand at heights of between 132cm (52in) tall with males being noticeably larger than the females.

These birds are found near water and will spend their day hunting for fish and other small animals. During the dry season they will also seek out dead animals.

Pairs remain together for life and will spend their time working on a nest which is sited in a tree or on top of a palm tree.

They are threatened by habitat loss and disturbance at their breeding sites.

Learn more about these big birds by reading on below.


What does the Jabiru look like?

Across the majority of their body the jabiru has white feathers. At the base of the neck is a red band and above their head it turns to black skin.

The jabiru has the second widest wingspan of any bird in the Americas and is the tallest flying birds found in South America.

Their body sits on top of two long, grey legs. The eye of the jabiru is colored brown.

Attached to the face is a large, black bill which can reach lengths of up to 33cm (13in) long.

These birds stand 132cm (52in) tall and they have an average weight of between 5 and 7kg (11 and 15lbs) Their wingspan is between 2.7 and 3.7m (9-12ft) across.. Males tend to be larger than females and have a longer bill.


How does the Jabiru survive in its habitat?

On the throat of the jabiru is a sac which can be inflated to indicate when they are excited or irritated.


What does the Jabiru eat?

The jabiru is a carnivore. They will feed on a range of reptiles, fish and amphibians. Their prey can be as large as a caiman.

This species has also been seen to scavenge for dead animals. They tend to increase this behavior during the dry season when their preferred prey sources are in short supply. By feeding on dead animals they help to clean up the bodies of water they inhabit.

Their large bill helps them to find food as they swoop it through the water to sense food.

Learn more about the Jabiru in this video from Dr. Gabby Wild on YouTube


Where do you find the Jabiru?

Central and South America is the native home of the jabiru. Here they can be found in the following countries - Argentina; Belize; Bolivia; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Grenada; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; United States; Uruguay and Venezuela.

In some parts of their range they are only present during certain seasons.

This species is a rare vagrant to the United States with birds having been sighted in Texas and Oklahoma.


Where can the Jabiru survive?

This species is closely associated with water and can be found in wetland and grassland habitats.

Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)

Credit: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


How does the Jabiru produce its young?

Breeding takes place from December to May. As a result of the large investment of energy required to raise the chicks they will typically breed once every two years.

Pairs of jabirus are believed to remain together for life. They will perform displays to strengthen their pair bonds. Their displays are performed in the water at breeding grounds and involve wing flapping.

Their nest is a platform which is formed from sticks. It is typically located high in the trees and may be on the crushed top of a palm tree which can cause the death of the tree. They may make use of the same nest across several years.

In to the nest they will deposit a clutch of 2-4 colored eggs. Both the male and female are involved in the incubation period of the eggs.

Young are able to fly for the first time by 15 weeks old. Despite this they require care from their parents for a further three months.


What does the Jabiru do during its day?

This species is able to fly. To aid in their take off they will perform a series of small hops. In flight they will hold their neck out in front of them. They may conduct large circles at height.

It is common to see this species in large groups.

While not considered vocal they do produce small vocalizations such as a hiss or fizz. They can also produce sound by clattering their bill.

Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)

Credit: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Jabiru from surviving and thriving?

Estimates of the population place it between 20,000 and 85,000 individuals. Their population is currently believed to be stable or suffering through a small decline.

Small numbers are collected for food and the pet trade.

They are also affected by habitat destruction and disturbance of their breeding sites.

Quick facts

The name jabiru is taken from a word used in the Tupi Indian language which means 'swollen neck.'

This species is regularly confused with the Asian Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus).

They were first described for modern science during 1819.

The jabiru is the only member of their genus, Jabiru.

Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)

Credit: Francesco Veronesi from Italy, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


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