These birds are very similar to each other: about 22 cm (9 inches) long, with long necks and fairly long yellow bills. Adults are black and chestnut-brown, with pale yellow-green flight feathers that contrast conspicuously when a bird flies. Their legs are long and grayish, and as in all jacanas, their toes are extremely long, for walking on aquatic vegetation such as lily pads. They have frontal shields (like those of coots) and wattles; differences in these are the most noticeable differences between the species. Juveniles are brown above and white below, with a buff-white stripe above the eye and a dark stripe behind it. The dark colors are somewhat darker on the juvenile Wattled Jacana than on the Northern.
Together the species occur in marshes in the American tropics and subtropics. The Northern species' range meets the Wattled in western Panama.
As in most other jacanas, males build the nests, incubate, and brood the chicks. Both these species are polyandrous, at least in some circumstances. Females lay separate clutches (of four eggs) for up to four mates, each of which tends his clutch alone.
For the etymology and pronunciation of Jacana, see the family article.
- ^ a b c Ridgely, Robert S.; Gwynne, John A., Jr. (1992), A Guide to the Birds of Panama with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras (Second ed.), Princeton University Press, p. 132, ISBN 0-691-08529-3, http://books.google.com/?id=H9INVOMUgOAC&pg=PA132#v=onepage&q=, retrieved 2009-08-14
- ^ Lack, Peter; Richford, Andrew S. (2003), "Jacanas", in Perrins, Christopher, The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds, Firefly Books, p. 244–245, ISBN 1-55297-777-3
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