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African Jacana

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African Jacana

When one thinks of what will make for him/her an incredible birding experience, should think about African Jacana in Uganda. It is a very interestingly lovely bird that creates a beautiful view during a birding tour thus fantastic birding experience. Jacanas are known as “lily-trotters” because of their striking long legs and long toes which enable them to walk on their splayed feet across floating vegetation especially water lilies while feeding on them. In Uganda, they can be best spotted from wetlands, lakes and ponds as they are common residents of fresh waters, therefore, you can spot them around Lake Victoria, Lake Albert or Lake Edward. There are various interesting facts about African Jacana including the following:

These graceful birds are conspicuous and unmistakable birds as well as good drivers and strong flyers. Squawking during flight, the African Jacana has a keen sense of sight and hearing. They have impressive markings which include chestnut brown feathers at the wings and yellow-orange beast feathers. The female bird is slightly larger than the male. The front of the neck is white while the back of the neck and head are glossy black. The bill is bluish-gray and eyes are dark brown, their legs and toes are long in relation to the rest of the bird’s body size. The adult bird is 32 cm in height and 2.5 kg in weight.

They prefer lagoons, swamps and marshes where there are lily pads and other floating vegetation as they spend most of their life on large floating leaves. They feed on water-lilies, insects like beetles, flies, aquatic larvae, small crabs, snails and small fish.

They are unusual birds in that the female birds display secondary sex characteristics since they have a polyandrous mating system where females have multiple partners and no male feels jealous.  The abandoned male has to incubate the eggs and raise the young ones.

African Jacanas are sociable birds gathering together in groups near their preferred swamps-like habitats and in terms of communication, these colourful – water birds send out loud, raucous calls when danger lurk or intruders fly over their territory. It is a noisy bird letting out a range of rapid repeated calls and sounds.

Courtship displays are fairly simple where both sexes solicit and they display it from a loose net platform by circling each other, walking with low head in order to enhance the blue-grey frontal shield.

The female African Jacana (the Queen of Jungle) lays several clutches of eggs which it leaves after for the male to take care. The male African Jacana is the primary caretaker of the offspring, incubating the eggs and carrying the baby chicks under his wings to keep them warm and dry until the chicks are approximately 18 days old. The young ones are a bit paler with a dull brown color above and a whitish-greyish tint on the frontal shield though it is hard to see it

They are nomadic birds in relation to changing water levels and always breed in permanent wetlands but only during the wet season in seasonally flooding areas. All these features make African Jacana a very interesting bird worth to watch in its natural habitat where one is capable of gaining excellent experiences with unforgettable memories.

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