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Birds | February 13, 2023 1:40 AM | hangbony

Why does this “African Jacana” bird have so many legs ?

Jacanas, also known as “lily trotters” and “lotus birds,” are aquatic animals belonging to the family Jacanidae.

They can walk easily or balance on lily pads owing to their large claws, hence the nickname.
The eight species of Jacanidae include the Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa), the African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus),

the Australian lotus bird (Irediparra gallinacea), the wattled jacana (Jacana jacana), and the pheasant-tailed jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus).
The jacana is mainly distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Australia, Central America, and South America.
Their habitats mainly consist of inland lakes, ponds, marshes, and floating vegetation.

They use their long legs and elongated toes to walk on floating vegetation in search of food, defend territories, or go into hiding when confronted by predators.

The jacana’s most common foods include purple gallinule, snakes, turtles, and floodwater. They are also great swimmers and divers.
The jacana is classified as Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List due to its stable population.

One distinctive characteristic of these birds is that they are polyandrous in nature, which means the females mate with more than one male.
This breeding system is not very common among birds. Females are more dominant than males and control their territories.

Females are also more petite and larger in size than males. Male birds build the nest, look after the chicks, and incubate the eggs.
Jacanas are usually 6-23 in (15-58 cm) in length, with their toes and claws ranging up to 4 in (10.2 cm) in some species. They are nearly three times the size of a bee hummingbird and measure 2-2.4 in (5.8 cm).

They are medium-sized birds and weigh around 0.1–0.6 lb (40–275 g).
Not much is known about the height jacanas can attain while flying, but they are weak fliers. They usually fly for a short distance.
These birds are omnivores and use their bills to grab their food. They primarily feed on insects and other invertebrates. Their diet consists mainly of insects, snails, worms, seeds, and small fish.

The jacana is found mainly in water bodies containing floating vegetation, like inland lakes, ponds, marshes, wet grassy areas, and farmlands.
They depend on wetlands to survive. The floating aquatic plants have roots attached to the substrate or float on the water column.
These birds build nests on these meadow plants. They are usually found from sea level to 8,000 ft.

Jacanas have a “quiet” way of breeding that is polyandrous in nature. Females are dominant over males and breed with more than one male.
The breeding season falls somewhere around the rainy season. The female jacana usually initiates the process and grows larger with more prominent tail feathers.
When the breeding season begins, the male jacanas begin to construct their nests on bodies of water.Their nests are made up of water lily leaves and other plant materials on top of the floating vegetation.

Females usually lay at least four eggs. It is then the male bird’s responsibility to incubate the eggs and care for the fledgling.
After almost 22–28 days of incubation, chicks emerge from the eggs. The chicks have a camouflage design on their plumage.
Jacanas have a life expectancy of about 6.5 years.
Jacana baby birds can swim really well, just like their parents. Jacanas are known to be great swimmers and divers.

A jacana chick can stay underwater for long periods of time as they have special breathing holes on their bills.
As a result, they can d dow inside the water for safety with only their bills eme outside.
This “snorkeling” behavior of the chicks has been noted in young wattled jacanas, pheasant-tailed jacanas, and northern jacanas.
The term “jacana” is derived from the term “jasan,” which is of an undetermined Tupian language.

Are they аɡɡгeѕѕіⱱe? Male and female partners work together to protect their territory and are both territorial in nature.
If a pedаto enters their territory, males from their nests call the female bird, who may attack the pedаto with their wings or bills. 

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