Pheasant-tailed Jacana

The Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) is a species of bird of the jacana family Jacanidae. It is found in India, southeast Asia, and Indonesia. It is resident in much of its range, but northern populations from south China and the Himalayas migrate into peninsular India and southeast Asia. It also resides in Taiwan, where it is also considered endangered. Its preferred habitat is shallow lakes with floating vegetation.

This bird is an eye-catching and unique specimen. It is the only Jacana to have a different breeding plumage. Breeding adults are mostly black (except for white wings, head, and fore neck). The hind neck is golden colored. There is a striking white eye-stripe. The legs and long toes are gray. The underparts of non-breeding adults are white except for a brown breast band and neck stripe. The side of the neck is golden colored. Young birds have brown upperparts. The underparts are white, with a light brown breast band. The adult is about 12 inches long, females larger than males. During the breeding season, they have an additional 3.15 inch long tail that is lost in the non-breeding seasons. Their call is a mewing me-onp and a nasal teeun

These Jacanas breed on floating vegetation from March to July. Although, in southern India, it breeds during the monsoon season (June – September). Females are polyandrous (having more than one mate at a time) and may lay up to 10 clutches. Four black-marked brown eggs are laid in the floating nests in each clutch. Although these birds are capable of swimming, they usually walk on the vegetation on lakes. Their main source of food are insects and other invertebrates picked from the vegetation on the water’s surface.

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