[zhah-suh-nah, jah-]
For the Melbourne suburb, see Jacana, Victoria.

The jacanas or jaçanas (sometimes referred to as Jesus birds) are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone. See Etymology below for proper pronunciation.


They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. They have sharp bills and rounded wings, and many species also have wattles on their foreheads.

The females are larger than the males; the latter, as in some other wader families like the phalaropes take responsibility for incubation, and some species (notably the Northern Jacana) are polyandrous. However, adults of both sexes look identical, as with most shorebirds. They construct relatively flimsy nests on floating vegetation, and lay eggs with dark irregular lines on their shells, providing camouflage amongst water weeds.

Its diet consists of insects and other invertebrates picked from the floating vegetation or the water’s surface.

Most species are sedentary, but the Pheasant-tailed Jacana migrates from the north of its range into peninsular India and southeast Asia.


Jacana is Linnæus' scientific Latin misspelling of the Brazilian Portuguese jaçanã (from a Tupi name of the bird), whose pronunciation is approximately [ža.sa.náN]. The best English-language representation of this might be "zhah-sah-NAH" or the more flowing "zhah-SAH-nah".




External links

Search another word or see jacanaon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature