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African Jacana - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by CollinBax
Lowersabie, Kruger National Park, South Africa, August 2008
Actophilornis africanus

Actophilornis africana


23–31 cm (9-12¼ in), mass 115-274 g

  • Chestnut upperparts with black wingtips, rear neck and eyestripe
  • White underparts
  • Chestnut belly patch
  • Blue bill extends up as a coot-like head shield
  • Legs and very long toes are grey
  • Eyes are dark brown

Sexes alike but the females are larger than males

Similar Species

Photo © by JohnathanAKR
Kruger National Park, South Africa, August 2007

Immature: is similar to adult Lesser Jacana, but much bigger; above light brown (dark brown in adult Lesser Jacana), below white; breast washed golden (no gold in adult Lesser Jacana); flanks brown; frontal shield small (not visible in field); crown and hind neck blackish brown (crown rufous in adult Lesser Jacana); black line through eye; buff eyebrow (eyebrow of adult Lesser Jacana white, forehead buff).


Widespread thoughout sub-Saharan Africa
Western Africa: Mauritania, Senegambia, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo and Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho and eSwatini
African Islands: Saint Helena and Madagascar


Photo © by volker sthamer
Mbamba Swamps, Uganda, July 2018

This is a monotypic species[1].


Lagoons, lakes, pans, river backwaters; usually with fringing vegetation and floating water lilies, Polygonum and other water plants.


The Jacanas are a group of waders in the order Charadriiformes. Their huge feet and claws enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat.


Their diet consists mostly of insects and worms, with other arthropods such as spiders and crustaceans.


It lays four black-marked brown eggs in a floating nest. A polyandrous species. The males, as in some other wader families like the phalaropes, take responsibility for incubation.


It is sedentary apart from seasonal dispersion.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Animal Pictures Archive

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.