TRENT'S WALK IN THE BELIZEAN JUNGLE (Part Eleven)
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JABIRU STORK SIGHTING
January is the time of year when the jabiru stork begins refurbishing last year's nursery in preparation for this year's brood. No mean feat; constructed of large sticks intertwining, the jabiru nest is a platform as many as 8 feet across! It perches high in a tall, often dead, usually lone tree within a pine ridge or above the jungle bush. This over exposure of its whereabouts made this otherwise shy bird an easy target in the pre-protection days when the jabiru was a commodity in the markets of Belize. Luckily today Belize boasts the healthiest breeding population of these storks within its eight country habitat (Central American and Mexico), although destruction of some nesting and feeding areas have inevitably occurred.
The largest flying bird in the Americas, the jabiru is four and a half to five feet in height with a wingspread of nine feet. In Spanish it is known as el re de ellos, or "king of them all". In Belize it is demoted to filly mingo, or even to turk! Aside from the obviousness of its out-size, its appearance is also unmistakable. Its plumage is all white, its head all black - including the heavy-duty bill; these are connected by a loose-skinned black neck bordered below by a bright red band, comprising a simple but tasteful ensemble - all things considered. No one ever implied that the jabiru is just a pretty face!
The in-mature jabiru is an appropriate brownish gray.
These storks feed in wetlands, around swamps and ponds, sometimes flying several miles in search of a favored food. There are many to choose among: fish, frogs, and snails, reptiles and small mammals. Snakes seem to be high on the list of yummy things to eat, perhaps because of the appetite which is worked up in the process of preparation. The jabiru will take a 6' snake and shake it, throw it up into the air and catch it, thrash it and bash it and finally tear it to pieces, which it then eats.
Jabirus come in solitary pairs which share the duties of parenthood but, when the nestling season is over, they fly north with their young (2-4) to join up with the flocks of southern Mexico.
Hi, my name is Trenton S. Turley. I've been living in Belize now for 11 years. Hope you enjoy reading my many blog posts. I write about things, that are passionate to me.
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