Jacana spinosa Linnaeus, 1758, western Panama. Three subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: American jacana; French: Jacana du Mexique; German: Gelbstirn-Blatthьhnchen; Spanish: Jacana Centroamericana.
6.7–9 in (17–23 cm). Females are 60% heavier than males. Adults have reddish-brown plumage with contrasting greenishyellow wing feathers and a yellow forehead shield. Juveniles are light brown and white.
Year-round resident in Mexico, from Gulf of Mexico south, including Yucutan peninsula and Cozumel, Central America, and West Indies; also occasionally appears in southern Texas, north to Austin and west of San Antonio, where it used to breed.
Marshes, ponds, and lakes with floating aquatic vegetation; also rivers, flooded pastures, and wet meadows. Breeds in both permanent and seasonal wetlands.
Males and females actively defend territories with vocal calls. Females will engage in fights with intruders.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Prefers a variety of aquatic plants and insects; except for water lily seeds, ingestion of plant material may be incidental.
Breeds during rainy season if a permanent marshland is available. Females are polyandrous and mate with up to four males and guard their territories. Males incubate eggs and care for chicks. Males build nests of leaves and plants on floating vegetation. Females lay four glossy brown speckled eggs. Incubation is 22–28 days. Breeding success is less than 50%.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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