English and Scientific names:

Jabiru, _Jabiru mycteria_

Number of individuals: 

1 in adult plumage

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

USA: Louisiana: Iberville Par.; within approximately 5 miles of LDWF's Sherburne South Farm Complex

Specific Locality:

Approximately 5 miles from LDWF's Sherburne South Farm Complex on PRIVATE property (i.e., please respect landowner's rights and search the equally likely South Farm Complex!)

Date(s) when observed:

31 July 2008

Time(s) of day when observed:  

Approximately 8:00am to 8:45am

Reporting observer and address:

Michael A. Seymour
LDWF - LA Natural Heritage Program
2000 Quail Drive, Rm. 426
Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Joshua T. Sylvest

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

Joshua T. Sylvest (we both identified the bird independently before exchanging smiles and high-fives about what we were seeing)

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Heavy overcast; subdued lighting

Optical equipment: 

Pentax 10x42 DCF WP II (like new condition)

Distance to bird(s): 

As close as, perhaps, 150-200 meters

Duration of observation:

45 minutes


Moist soil unit impoundments -- used for waterfowl and shorebird/wading bird management

Behavior of bird: 

As Josh and I drove up to the impoundments to start surveying shorebirds, we both observed a feeding congregation of Wood Storks, herons, egrets, spoonbills, and ibises.  We both raised our binoculars to check out the storks through our windshield and were immediately shocked to see a Jabiru in our binocular fields.  The flock initially lifted up, perhaps, due to the truck(?), but settled only a few feet away from its initial spot.  The Jabiru was, more or less, the last bird to lift up and for an even shorter distance than the herons, etc.  Within a couple of minutes the flock was back to foraging, and the Jabiru moved closer to its original spot.  Most Wood Storks left with the initial flush.  Josh and I spent the next several minutes making phone calls and stalking the bird through vegetation to get acceptable photos.  We decided not to approach the bird any closer for fear of flushing it; we'd hoped some of our voicemails would pan out!  Unfortunately, as this area is a working complex, a truck started driving towards the flock, and it was decided that we should, perhaps, try harder to get photos of the legs (to check for bands).  We approached a bit closer, took more photos, and the work truck moved back away from the bird.  After a couple more minutes the bird left on its own (i.e., not flushed; in fact, other, more wary, birds were still flying in to feed) and flew W then hooked towards the S.  The bird spent the majority of the time feeding, preening, and loafing, much like the herons, etc.


Gigantic white stork-like bird (maybe 5 ft tall!), long dark legs and dark, huge, heavy bill.  Bare black face, head, neck.  Base of neck with large ring of red skin.  A fine line of white feathers ran up the back of the bird's neck to the top of its head.  When Jabiru flew, it showed all white flight feathers, tail, and body.

All other birds were dwarfed by the Jabiru.  The next closest in size were, perhaps, the Wood Storks or Great Blue Herons, which didn't appear any taller than shoulder height on the Jabiru!



Similar species:

Only Wood Storks are remotely similar.  Wood Storks much smaller (could be compared directly), do not have red skin on neck, and do have black flight feathers on wings.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Yes.  Josh Sylvest and I obtained photographs and a very brief video of Jabiru in flight when it left.

Previous experience with this species: 

Seen in zoos only -- Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA, I believe?

Identification aids:

None.  Both Josh and I immediately recognized this unique species.
after observation:=I looked at _National Geographic Guide_ and _A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America_ to determine age (I didn't know if white line of feathers on neck indicated young bird).

This description is written from: 

Memory and photos

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 


If not, explain:=Absolutely positive.  The only risk is this bird being a zoo bird, which will, undoubtedly, be asked.  To try to curb this uncertainty, Josh and I checked the bird's legs (above ankle only, as most of the leg was in vegetation); no bands were seen, which could've indicated zoo origin.  I also spoke to a friend who works at a prominent US zoo, and he indicated that he has not received any reports of escaped Jabirus, which are, apparently, very rare in zoos anyway.


Michael A. Seymour

Date and time: 

1 August 2008 at 5:00pm