Tropic Air is no stranger to the majestic and unusual looking Jabiru stork. Back then, this normally rare bird stationed itself at The Admirals bar during the renovation of the Belize City municipal runway, and was using this for his daily early morning exercise!
You can follow the photo story of its rescue and relocation here.
The Jabiru (latin name jabiru Mycteria) is one of two storks found in Belize, belonging to the Ciconiidae family of birds, the other being the wood stork. It became a protected species in Belize in 1973 , which meant it was illegal to hunt it, and as a result it maintains one of the healthiest breeding populations in Central America. It is one of the largest birds in the western hemisphere at roughly five feet high. As it soars through the air with its eight-foot wingspan it almost looks like a prehistoric pterodactyl.
The jabiru possesses a huge black beak which is approximate a foot long. This beak is expertly designed to catch food which consists primarily of fish and reptiles and there is a pouch in their throat that allows them to filter the fish they catch from the water. This beak incidentally is straighter in the male of the species. The black featherless neck is topped with a white tuft on the head that looks much like a mohawk, and a bright red necklace at the base of the neck, adorns the rest of the otherwise white plumage. The legs which are extremely long are also black.
The Jabiru like other storks is mute because it doesn’t possess a syrinx which is the voice organ, instead it communicates by clattering its beak , hissing and grunting.
Jabirus are normally found in pairs or small groups and breed this way. They build their stick nests high in trees normally laying two to four whitish eggs.
The number of these birds range depending on the time of year in Belize. June’s count of this year showed 45, so as you can see it is still relatively rare here but if you want to be sure to see one or several on your vacation, be sure to visit The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary between November and June. The marshes and wetlands here are favored by these birds and they fly here from Mexico around November, migrating north at the first sign of the rainy season. You can also see them and other interesting animals native to Belize, at The Belize Zoo www.belizezoo.org. Tropic Air offers a tour combined with cave tubing. Check it out here.