Tuesday, December 13, 2011

World Bird Wednesday: African Jacana

Jacanas are also called lily trotters for their habit of walking around on the big leaves of water lilies, which you can see here. This one is an African Jacana (Actophilornis africana), native to much of Southern Africa.

They feed on invertebrates they pick up from the leaves and the water surface. They can swim and dive very well, even chicks can already stay underwater for a while, with only the tips of their beaks showing. Flight is not the jacana's strong suit and African jacanas even lose all flight feathers when they molt.

A female mates with multiple males, lays eggs in their nests and then leaves the male to care for the eggs and the chicks, while she guards the territory. If eggs are lost, she will return to lay additional ones. The nest is a rather flimsy platform made from plants that floats on the water or is placed on top pf floating vegetation. The male leads the chicks when they have left the nest (which they do quickly) and guards them for 40-70 days.

African jacanas are social and live in large groups that forage together. They have a variety of calls and when threatened, they raise their wings to look bigger and more threatening. Predators are such animals as otters, snakes and water mongoose.

More birds at World Bird Wednesday

Sources and further reading:
San Diego Zoo
Ouiseaux Birds
Internet Bird Collection
South Africa Venues

The photos were taken at Hagenbecks Tierpark.

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