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Jaçanas (lily Trotters)

February 15, 2013 by  

Jaçanas (lily Trotters), The jaçanas (sometimes referred to as Jesus birds or lily trotters) are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone. See Etymology below for pronunciation.

Eight species of jaçana are known from six genera. The fossil record of this family is restricted to a recent fossil of the Wattled Jaçana from Brazil and an Pliocene fossil of an extinct species, Jacana farrandi, from Florida.

They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. They have sharp bills and rounded wings, and many species also have wattles on their foreheads.

The females are larger than the males; the latter, as in some other wader families like the phalaropes, take responsibility for incubation, and some species (notably the Northern Jaçana) are polyandrous. However, adults of both sexes look identical, as with most shorebirds. They construct relatively flimsy nests on floating vegetation, and lay eggs with dark irregular lines on their shells, providing camouflage amongst water weeds.

Their diet consists of insects and other invertebrates picked from the floating vegetation or the water’s surface.

Most species are sedentary, but the Pheasant-tailed Jaçana migrates from the north of its range into peninsular India and southeast Asia.

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