These beautiful birds are excellent divers and fliers. The African Jacana, which squawks while flying, has a good sense of sight and hearing and depends little on its sense of smell. The female bird is bigger than the male, although the coloration of the feathers is nearly the same in both sexes. The chestnut brown feathers on their wings and the yellow-orange breast feathers are eye-catching.


The front of the neck is white, while the rear and top of the skull are glossy black. The bill of the African Jacana is bluish-grey, and the eyes are dark brown. In comparison to the rest of the bird’s body size, the legs and toes are rather lengthy.


Because of their delicate legs and toes, these exquisite birds are known as ‘lily walkers,’ since they gracefully stroll on the lily pads that carpet native wetlands. Males of the species are far more elegant than females due to their lower size. 


If you’re an avid birder then this blog post is perfect for you. Join us in learning more about the beautiful African Jacana. 


The African Jacana prefers lily pads and other floating plants in lagoons, swamps, and marshes. It lives for the most part on huge floating leaves. Although they are non-migratory, they are very nomadic, frequently travelling in search of new temporary wetlands.


African Jacanas are gregarious birds that congregate in large numbers near their preferred swampy surroundings. Confrontational behaviour among same-sexed birds begins around the end of the winter and intensifies in the months leading up to the mating season, which runs from November to March. African Jacanas do not have monogamous mating patterns, with the female selecting many mates each season.


Each season, a mating couple can have up to 30 clutches of eggs, arising from the same or other partners. The female African Jacana is bigger and more dominating than the male. She may be quite picky about who she chooses to mate with, and she seldom picks the same partner for each clutch of eggs she produces. 


Aquatic insects and larvae, worms, snails, and other arthropods are all food for the African Jacana. When it forages in open farmed areas, it may take seeds. It hunts for prey by walking on the floating plants, due to its long toes, which distribute its body’s weight across a broader area.


It gleans preys off the surface, but it also uses its beak or even its toes to flip over lily pads in quest of food. It can also capture flying insects.


The African Jacana can swim and dive well. When foraging, it swims from one vegetated region to another across open water. It can swim underwater to evade predators, and the chicks can stay underwater for a brief period with only the bill tip above the surface and swim as well as the adults. When attacked, the bird displays an aggressive stance by raising its wings in front of the predator as a visual indication. If the invader flies across the area, it makes a noisy call. This species is sociable outside of the mating season and can form huge groups.


The African Jacana’s mating method is inverted. The male is in charge of all nesting responsibilities, while the female has access to a number of males and defends her territory against other females. The courting rituals are straightforward. Both sexes are attracted to one other. They perform a circular performance from a loose nest platform, walking with a low head to emphasise the blue-grey frontal shield. Before mounting her, the female crouches and the man pecks at her body. These presentations can be repeated up to five times, but only a tiny percentage of solicitations result in cloacae contact.


The African Jacana does not migrate, although it can become quite migratory when water levels change.


The African Jacana makes a lot of noise. It makes a harsh, ringing “krrrek,” as well as a shorter, faster, louder, raspier “kreep-kreep-kreep,” and a barking “kyowrrr.” The alarms are loud and obnoxious. It makes a rattling shriek when flying.


The nest is often a simple, partially submerged pad of aquatic vegetation, while nests on deeper water are normally erected on tiny floating ‘rafts’ of vegetation. Between December and April, the female African Jacana produces numerous clutches of eggs. The eggs have a dark brown colour with irregular black patterns and a glossy finish.


The male African Jacana is the principal guardian of the progeny, incubating the eggs and holding the tiny chicks under his wings until they are around 18 days old to keep them warm and dry.



Insects and larvae, worms, snails, mollusks and crustaceans, spiders, and certain seeds are all eaten by the African Jacana. It can grab flying insects and gleans prey from the surface.


The nile monitor, cape clawless otter, and hippopotamus are predators of African Jacana eggs and chicks. Because their eggs and young chicks are frequently preyed upon, the species’ existence is contingent on the mother’s capacity to produce many clutches of eggs in a single season.


Throughout much of its range, the African Jacana is common and abundant. Habitat degradation, floods, wetlands draining, and overgrazing may all pose local threats to the species. Snakes feed on eggs and chicks in the water. The invasive imported nutria (Myocastor coypus) destroys water lilies, but the jacana may nest on other floating plants such as the exotic Salvinia water fern. However, this species is now classified as Least Concern and is not considered endangered.

Bronwyn Reynolds, Fizzin