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Large spectacular black and white bird standing almost 2 metres when fully grown. Wing span can reach well over 2 metres. Long red coloured legs, beak is long, strong and black. Head and neck black with a metallic blue/green/purple sheen, wings marked with black, body and wing tips brilliant white. Male has black eyes, female has yellow eyes, juveniles are more dusky brown until adult black and white plumage forms. In flight and gliding high on thermals the Jabiru seems graceful, but when taking off especially from ground level or coming in to land it is extremely awkward. Feeds on crustaceans, fish, amphibians, snakes, eels, often stalking slowly through water or flapping wings wide to chase up aquatic life before striking. Usually nests in top of tree or large bush but these have been observed on a flattened reed clump mass. Breeding is also described as being between March and June, although this pair take the opportunity to breed when seasonal conditions favour them often outside described breeding time.
Once widespread throughout much of eastern and northern Australia, now mostly known in more northern regions, but remains an uncommon bird. Prefers swamps, freshwater lagoons, mangrove and estuary swamps, flooded or waterlogged pastures, quiet open lake and stream areas. Found from southern areas such as Sydney in eastern NSW to far north Queensland and across top end into north west of Western Australia.
A breeding pair call 'my' swamp home, captured in the early morning sunrise over the headwaters of the Coldstream River on my new property. The clapping of bills can be heard from the back verandah. More detailed images to be posted soon.