Northern Jacana, Jacana spinosa


Northern Jacana
Jacanas have facial shields, and inhabit marshes, where their very large feet allow
them to walk on slightly submerged lily pads and so seem to walk on water. In appearance
and behavior they resemble rails, but this is believed to be a case of convergent
evolution rather than common descent, as genetic evidence shows the jacanas to be
more closely related to shorebirds and gulls than to rails.


Northern Jacanas
Male Northern Jacanas are smaller than females; they incubate nests, and care for young birds, as do males of the phalaropes, but few other bird species. Thus the bird shown above, with a downy chick nearby, can be presumed to be a male. Birds of this species do not differ by sex in plumage, only in size.


Northern Jacana
Above and below, young jacanas, grown beyond the downy stage, distinguished from adults by their white underparts and the lack of the yellow facial shield.


Northern Jacana