The family Jacanidae includes 1 species found in North America.
Jacanas occur in swamps, marshes, wet meadows and along streams in the tropics and subtropics of Africa, Asia, Australia, New Guinea and from Mexico to Argentina. Jacanas range in length from 16.5-53 cm. Plumages are dark reddish or blackish-brown with areas of white or pale yellow. Sexes are alike in coloration, but females are larger than males. Several species have fleshy wattles covering the forehead and all species have a sharp spur or a knob extending from the carpals. The long, bare tibia, long toes and extremely long toenails are adapted for walking on floating vegetation.
Jacanas feed on insects taken from floating vegetation and on frogs, fish and invertebrates, from the surface or below the surface of the water. They often turn over aquatic plants to search for prey and may eat some plant material, including the ovules of water lilies.
The females court and mate with several males. Nests are flimsy platforms of plant debris built on floating vegetation, mainly or entirely by the male. Clutch usually of 4 glossy yellow to brown eggs with dark markings or unmarked. The male incubates for about 22-28 days. The female may start a second clutch with another male a week after completing a clutch with the first male and continue to produce clutches for her other males. She may copulate with all males in her group within 30 minutes. Females feed in and defend the territories of their males. Males provide all, or most, of brood care. Some species pick up and carry chicks under their wings to protect them from rain. The downy precocial chicks feed only when with the male and are dependent on him for 3-4 months.
Jacanas - Patuxent Bird ID Center