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Jacanas: Jacanidae

African Jacana (actophilornis Africanus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The African jacana ranges in length from 9 to 12.2 inches (23 to 31 centimeters) and in weight from 4 to 9 ounces (137 to 261 grams). African jacanas have brown, black, and white feathers and a blue patch on the forehead.

Geographic range: African jacanas are found in Africa south of the Sahara desert.

Habitat: African jacanas inhabit marshes, ponds, and lakes with mats of floating vegetation.

African jacanas walk across the floating vegetation in marshes, ponds, and lakes with their large feet, only rarely taking to the air. (© Nigel Dennis/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: African jacanas eat primarily insects, other invertebrates, and the seeds of aquatic plants.

Behavior and reproduction: African jacanas breed during the rainy season. Females defend territories and mate with as many as four different males. Four eggs are laid at a time and hatch after twenty-two to twenty-eight days.

African jacanas and people: No significant interactions between African jacanas and people are known.

Conservation status: The African jacana is not currently considered threatened. ∎



del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3, Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1996.

Perrins, Christopher, ed. Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2003.

Web sites:

"Jacanidae (Jacanas)." The Internet Bird Collection. http://www.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/familia.phtml?idFamilia=52 (accessed on April 16, 2004).

"Family Jacanidae (Jacanas)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/classification/Jacanidae.html#Jacanidae (accessed on April 16, 2004).

"Jacanas." Bird Families of the World, Cornell University. http://www.es.cornell.edu/winkler/botw/jacanidae.html (accessed on April 16, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsJacanas: Jacanidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Pheasant-tailed Jacana (hydrophasianus Chirurgus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, JACANAS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS