Birds with vivid plumages are just one example of the enchantment that is the animal kingdom, many of which can be found on the African continent. However, the African Jacana’s most striking feature is not its beak, plumage, or wings, but rather its peculiar legs.
This remarkable bird is able to gently navigate across floating plants in shallow lakes because to its large toes and expanded claws. This magical bird has many legs, but how many exactly? We’re going to find out, so get ready to be blown away.
The African Jacana is instantly recognizable due to its unusually enormous feet in comparison to the rest of its body, and it continues to captivate people all over the world.
Originating in Africa, these fish-hunting birds are able to walk on lily pads thanks to their ability to evenly distribute their weight. When protecting their territory or hiding from predators, these unique creatures can use the floating flora to their advantage by navigating it with their long, delicate legs and oddly shaped toes.
The jacana, or “Jesus bird,” is a member of the family of wading birds found in Australia, Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and the Caribbean.
The length of this conspicuous and clearly recognizable bird ranges from 6 inches (15 cm) to 23 inches (58 cm), with certain species boasting toe and claw lengths of up to 4 inches (10.2 cm). The African Jacana was initially described in 1789 by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin, who found that it lived in marshes all over sub-Saharan Africa.
Women are considerably larger than men. They have white on their throats and cheeks and a chestnut brown plumage with a yellow band across the breast. In addition, their crowns, napes, eyestripes, and wingtips are all black. The beak and forehead shield are a soft blue, and the legs are a greyer blue. These birds subsist mostly on a diet of insects, worms, spiders, and crustaceans, all of which may be found in and around marshes.
I mean, look at those feet! Many of the stunning images of these vibrant water birds in their natural setting can appear unsettling at first glance. A little bird with a horrifyingly large number of additional legs can look like it came straight out of a scary story.
Still, the facts aren’t all that terrifying…
Those are the shanks of baby jacanas, who are dangling from their parents’ chests. It’s a little out there, but that’s the way Mother Nature intended it.
The male jacanas are the breadwinners of the family. After the eggs have been laid, the mother leaves, and the father is responsible for taking care of the young. When the father sees that his chicks are in danger, he will take them under his wings. Just another example of the great diversity and beauty of our local species.
As we discussed previously, Jacanas are unusual among birds in that the females tend to be larger than the males. Another unusual behavior of the jacana is its polyandrous mating system, in which a single female forms alliances with several males, yet all parental duties fall on the male.
Males provide protective warmth and care for the eggs by brooding them between their wings. The African wetlands pose a wide variety of threats to the hatchlings. Crocodiles in particular are ready to pounce on any jacana chicks that wander into their territory, as they thrive in wet areas. As a result, fathers have developed robust defense mechanisms and are constantly on high alert.
They’ll give the signal for their babies to snuggle under their wings, and then they’ll carry them off, legs dangling. Sometimes this makes jacanas look like they have a lot of legs, which leads to some pretty great visuals.
In actuality, however, it’s just a matter of biology and evolution.
These wonderful creatures perfectly illustrate the universal need for a parent to provide a safe environment for their young. The male jacana will tend to the young until they are 40-70 days old.
These birds are not in danger of extinction thanks to their large, stable population and the variety of environments they may thrive in.
Is that a bird you’ve ever seen in the wild?
How many legs do you think jacanas actually have? If you found this post interesting, please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or by like our Facebook page.