Madagascar Jacana

The Madagascar Jacana (Actophilornis albinucha) is an endemic Malagasy shorebird species in the family Jacanidae, one of eight living species in the family that typically colonize tropical and subtropical freshwater wetlands.  

Jacanas are identifiable by their greatly elongated toes and claws that enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes and ponds that make up their habitat, giving rise to the nickname “lily-trotters” in some places. 

Madagascar Jacana females are significantly larger than males, suggesting that—like the six other jacana species with reversed sexual size dimorphism—this species may follow a polyandrous mating system. However, for this understudied species there is insufficient breeding data to be certain.

 

 

Image 1: Madagascar Jacana as illustrated in the Magasin de Zoologie, 1832. Image from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (www.biodiversitylibrary.org), contributed by Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Ernst Mayr Library.

Image 2: Photograph of Madagascar Jacana by Zieger M / CC BY-SA.

Image 3: Egg set of the closely related, slightly smaller African Jacana (Actophilornis africana) from Kenya, 1952. From the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology egg collections.