Comb-crested Jacana

Comb-crested Jacana, Kakadu Nat'l. Park, Australia

Comb-crested Jacana, Kakadu Nat’l. Park, Australia

This bright and brilliant bird can walk on water.  They have special large feet (and claws) that distribute their weight allowing them to effortlessly walk on floating vegetation.


There are eight species of jacana in the world, the comb-crested jacana occurs primarily in Australia, the Philippines, and surrounding islands.  Jacanas inhabit the world’s tropical zones.


Kakadu overview

Kakadu NP, jacanas and ducks

Feeding on aquatic insects and invertebrates, the bird rarely visits the shore.  I have watched the Australian and African jacanas for long periods, and never saw them on land, always in water.


Irediparra gallinacea meander on the floating leaves and lily pads, stopping to feed, making their way across the water’s surface.  They can fly and swim, but prefer to walk.


While in Africa we saw a juvenile jacana–a very curious-looking youngster with over-sized feet, wavering precariously and not as confident of each step as the nearby adults.


Photo by Djambalawa. Northern Territory, Australia. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The Australian jacana, the comb-crested, is one of the most beautiful species, with a bright red wattle covering the forehead and forecrown.


More info here.


We spent five days in Kakadu National Park on the north side of Australia.  It was 110 degrees F. (43 C.) every day we were there, so we spent a lot of time near the rivers and were often greeted by the jacana, also known as lily trotter.


South Alligator River sunset, Kakadu

South Alligator River sunset, Kakadu

They also build their precarious nests on the floating vegetation.  The eggs are camouflaged with lines.  Only males incubate while the females find a new male to mate with.


Water’s surface is nowhere for a baby to live, so the chicks are born well-developed and soon leave the nest.


Most of us are accustomed to seeing wading birds either with their feet submerged or in muck.


How unusual and refreshing it was to see this bird gracefully traveling atop the lily pads.


Crocodile, Kakadu

Crocodile, Kakadu

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander unless otherwise noted

Comb-crested Jacana range map. Courtesy of



54 thoughts on “Comb-crested Jacana

    • I spent many days in Cairns and although there were many birds, we did not see the c-c jacana there. I am glad you have had the pleasure of experiencing AU Sherry. I debated putting the map in, so I’m glad to know you liked it. My thanks to you, and have a wonderful weekend~~

  1. What an amazing bird! I clicked the link for the Australian Jacana and then enlarged the image – I couldn’t believe my eyes. The size of those feet in comparison to the bird is incredible. Very cool 🙂

  2. A bird that walks on water? Jet you discover some of the most fascinating animals. I hope the the comb-crested jacana also has the unique feature of eyes in the back of it’s head as that crocodile looks very hungry.

    • They have some very big crocodiles in Kakadu, so you see why the jacana chicks do not linger long on the lily pad nests. I’m happy to see you today, Sue, and always appreciate your visits. I hope your weekend is a blast.

    • They like still waters and are quite unassuming, but always a treat to find. I’m really happy to introduce you to the jacana, Iris. And you have a wonderful weekend too! My thanks to you~~

  3. Beautiful bird with all the necessary tools to walk over aquatic plants, isn’t Nature so cool? Thinks of everything! Thanks Jet for you nice post! 🙂

    • I totally agree, HJ — nature is so so cool. And how fun it is to be in it, as you know, soaking up the endless delights. I always appreciate your visits and warm comments.

    • And I thoroughly enjoy your visits, as well, Gunta. I am so happy you enjoyed the jacana post, it is a pleasure to share this interesting species. My thanks for your frequent visits and comments, and my best to you~~

    • I was just going through some photos for an upcoming post and have lovely jacana photos from Belize too. We are lucky there are a number of jacana species around the world. I’m glad you liked the sunset photo and jacana, thanks so much, ACI.

    • Thanks so much David. It’s an interesting thing to endure the heat, because when you know you will probably never be back to this particular place again, you stay focused as long as you possibly can on the beauties that surround you. And then go find ice cream or air conditioning or water and revel in your accomplishment. And then I have an additional pleasure of sharing the beauty with my friends like you. 🙂

  4. Not only having a unique skill to walk floating on the water, but they also look beautiful! I had no idea about this species, thank you for introducing Jacana. I hope you are having a great long weekend and happy labor day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s