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Jacanas: Jacanidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Pheasant-tailed Jacana (hydrophasianus Chirurgus): Species AccountsGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, JACANAS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA (Hydrophasianus chirurgus): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
AFRICAN JACANA (Actophilornis africanus): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Jacanas are found in the Old World and New World tropics, including parts of Central America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Madagascar.

Jacanas inhabit aquatic environments such as marshes or ponds in open (rather than forested) areas. They prefer water bodies that are covered in vegetation, since they use floating vegetation for both feeding and shelter. Jacanas have also been found in flooded pastures or rice fields.


Jacanas eat primarily insects. They forage, or search for food, by floating on water lilies or other vegetation and turning over the large leaves with their long toes. They then eat the insects or seeds caught in the water lily's roots. Jacanas also forage for seeds among the blades of marsh grasses. Rarely, they will eat larger prey such as small fish.


Jacanas live close to humans in many parts of their range and are therefore well-known to them.


No jacana species are currently considered threatened. However, wetland habitats are being drained for agricultural or other human uses in many parts of the world. Other populations have suffered due to pollution from pesticides.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirds