The Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) is a jacana in the monotypic genus Hydrophasianus. Jacanas are a group of waders in the family Jacanidae that are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes, their preferred habitat. The Pheasant-tailed Jacana is capable of swimming, although it usually walks on the vegetation. The females are more colourful than the males and are polyandrous.
Jacana is one Linnæus' pseudo-Latin misspelling for the Brazilian Portuguese Jaçanã (from a Tupi name of the same bird) whose pronunciation is approximately [ža.sa.náN].
This is the only jacana to have a different breeding plumage. The Pheasant-tailed Jacana is a conspicuous and unmistakable bird. They are around 31 cm long, with the females larger than the males. During the breeding season, the long tail adds another 8 cm. The outermost primaries have a spatulate extension of 2 cm and the seventh primary has a broad protrusion.
Breeding adults are mainly black other than white wings, head, and fore neck. The hind neck is golden. There is a striking white eyestripe. The legs and very long toes are grey.
Non-breeding adults lack the long tail. The underparts are white except for a brown breast band and neck stripe. The side of the neck is golden.
Young birds have brown upperparts. The underparts are white, with a weak brown breast band.
Measurements (From Rasmussen and Anderton): length 310 mm 390-580 mm (breeding) Wing (with extension of primary) 190-244 mm (adults) 168-228 mm (juveniles) Bill 23-30 mm Tarsus 45-58 mm Tail 194-376 mm (breeding) 110-117 mm (non breeding)
Their call is a mewing me-onp and a nasal teeun