Release Date: 08/06/2008

The tallest flying bird in Central and South America, a Jabiru, has been spotted for the first time in Louisiana near the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) South Farm Complex on the morning of July 31 by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) personnel.

LDWF Ornithologist Michael Seymour and LDWF technician Joshua Sylvest found the rare stork while performing a shorebird survey in the area.  They observed the bird with wood storks and watched it feed in a flock with great blue herons, little blue herons, roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets, great egrets and ibises.  After about 45 minutes of observation and documentation, the bird flew off and has not been relocated. 

Seymour and Sylvest were able to take photographs and video of the bird that has been submitted with other documentation to the Louisiana Bird Records Committee.  The committee is a panel of professional ornithologists and respected birders who vote to accept or reject the claim based on validity of documentation.

"When Josh and I parked the truck to start our shorebird survey, we immediately saw the Jabiru; it towered over all the other wading birds.  We were speechless at what we saw, instead quietly, high-fiving to celebrate the discovery," Seymour said.  "Finding a first state record bird is a dream of all birders, and Josh and I didn't think twice about creeping through a mud-filled impoundment to get documentary proof.  I hope other birders are lucky enough to see this rare bird."

Adult Jabirus are approximately 5 feet tall with a wingspan over 7 feet and a weight of about 17 pounds.  The massive, black beak is up to 1 foot long.  Body and flight feathers are mostly white, but the head and upper neck are featherless and black with a bare, red stretchable pouch at the base of the neck. 

Anyone between 16 and 59 years of age visiting any state WMA is required to carry a valid Louisiana hunting, fishing or wild Louisiana stamp.

For more information, contact Michael Seymour at 225-763-3554 or