Selva Maya

Jabiru stork

Jabiru stork, Jabiru mycteria

Whenever this largest of the three New World storks shows up on the coast of Texas, birders from all over the country fly out to add it to their US life-list. More usually, it is found from southern Mexico to Argentina. It can stand up to five feet in height. It was once a rather common zoo bird, but is now extremely rare in captivity, though not considered threatened in the wild. It hunts in water, feeding mostly on fishes, frogs, and snails. In the Tupi language, “Jabiru” means “swollen neck”.

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American flamingo

American flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber

The most brilliantly colored of the six species of flamingos, this familiar bird breeds in various Caribbean islands, the Caribbean coast of South America, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Galapagos. The American or Caribbean flamingo remains abundant in the wild. In captivity, there are more than 4,000 worldwide, with more than 1,500 in US collections alone. They easily live more than 40 years in zoos. Since the first captive breeding in 1937, they have been hatched in many places. They build their nests from mud, and lay only one egg at a time.

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Wattled jacana

Wattled jacana, Jacana jacana

Jacanas are highly specialized relatives of sandpipers and plovers, found in tropics around the world. In some places they are called lily-trotters because their extremely long toes enable them to walk on lily pads and other floating water plants. There are eight species of which six are confined to the Old World. All have spurs on their wings. This one is found from Panama to Argentina. It is more often kept in zoos in Europe as compared to those in the US.

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Central American agouti

Central American agouti, Dasyprocta punctata

Weighing up to eight pounds, this rodent is considered delicious and is hunted by humans throughout its range, from the Mexican state of Chiapas through Central America to northern South America. It has also been introduced to Cuba and the Cayman Islands. They eat fruit and nuts, which they hold in their paws like a squirrel. They have two to four young at a time. Males and females form permanent pairs, though males stay away while the female is nursing. They may live up to 20 years, an unusual longevity for a rodent.

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Spectacled owl

Spectacled owl, Pulsatrix perspicillata

Found in forests from southern Mexico to Argentina, this owl was known to the Aztecs for sounding like “tiles clinking together”. Instead of hooting, they primarily produce a rapid knocking or tooting sound. Because of this call they are called “Coffin Makers” in parts of their range. Imported to England more than 150 years ago, it has long been a popular bird in captivity, and has bred in a number of collections, including the DWA. Young birds have a black mask that eventually retracts to the adult’s face pattern.

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