The African Jacana in Kruger National Park

The African Jacana is one of the first birds you might encounter when you cross the bridge into Kruger National Park at the Crocodile Bridge Gate.  This distinctive birds most remarkable feature is its foot, with extremely elongated toes and long straight claws.  The claw of the hind-toe is much longer than the toe itself, and tapers to a fine point.  The toes help to distribute the weight of the bird so that it can walk on the surface of the floating vegetation while they feed on aquatic insects, mollusks and crustaceans found there.

These birds are widespread and abundant residents in freshwater and margins of slow flowing rivers where they favor surfaces covered by water lilies. They have a bright blue frontal shield and their bills are long and curved, the sexes look alike but the female is generally larger.  They have a distinctive call that consists of a range of screeching, scolding and yapping notes.  They are Polyandrous and build their nests on a platform of floating vegetation.  The female incubates and takes over all parental duties once the eggs are laid. Their eggs are some of the most beautiful of all birds eggs; rich brown in color overlaid with scrolling fine black lines.

Dominate males take up territories and advertise for females, but only approach them when the female takes up a submissive posture.  After copulation the female lays eggs daily until the clutch is complete.

Be sure to look for these wonderful birds anytime you are near freshwater.

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