Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps

Family JACANIDAE Chenu & Des Murs, 1854


Jacanas are moderate-sized waders that have a cosmopolitan distribution, mainly within wetlands of the Torrid Zone with incursions into subtropical regions. Worldwide there are eight species assigned to six genera. These are distributed through the New World, Africa and Asia. Australia and New Guinea have a resident and monotypic genus, Irediparra . Typically jacanas have carpal spurs, and have long legs associated with their unique lengthy toes. There is no distinction in plumage of the sexes although these are separable by the dimension of their frontal shields. One endemic Australian ultrataxon exists for this genus, and another another occurs in islands north of the Australian continent. A second genus, the Asian Hydrophasianus, is known from a few isolated Australian records.

Jacanids are adapted to a wetland environment, preferring still waters covered with floating vegetation. Feeding is effected by pecking invertebrates from floating plants; occasional variations in diet include small vertebrates and some plant material. The birds are usually solitary but also gather in non-breeding groups. They are generally sedentary but local nomadic movements occur.

Jacana calls are normally restricted to piping notes usually uttered if they are disturbed or in flight. Nests are placed on floating vegetation and are constructed of an assembly of local materials that form a floating platform. In this way the oval or pyriform eggs are generally kept moist through close proximity with the water surface. Three or four eggs are generally the complete clutch; these eggs have a glossed ochre-brown base colour entirely covered by darker blotches, splotches and spots. The chicks are precocial, nidifugous and ptilopaedic.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
10-Nov-2020 AVES 10-Nov-2020 MODIFIED
10-Nov-2015 JACANIDAE Chenu & Des Murs, 1854 28-Feb-2020 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)