I've seen African Jacanas many many times and never quite understood why my driver guides were always so excited when seeing one.

They aren't rare but they are cool.   With huge feet, they appear to be walking on water.

an african Jacana bird - brown wings white neck a little blue on his beak and head with gray legs and super long toes

Notice the grey legs and the super long toes -- it's a bit hard to see with all the grass - but zoom in.   These feet and long legs make it appear as if he's walking on water...he is actually just using the foliage to walk across.

On my recent trip to the Chobe River, Botswana, we were lucky to see an African Jacana with chicks...I say lucky because it was a bit late in the season for chicks.

It was a difficult sighting because they were in tall grass as opposed to the Lilly pads they can often be found on.

The babies are just little puff balls.  

African Jacana bird with a little chick walking towards him

Do you see the little fluff ball chick walking to dad?   The dad will call to them when there is danger.

Once the eggs are laid, the female leaves and the male is responsible for incubating the eggs and taking care of the young.  

The babies are in danger from Eagles and other predatory birds.   For the first two weeks of the babies life, when the father hears or sees an eagle or predator, he will squat down low and open his wings.   

The babies get into position
the baby gets in position to crawl under the African Jacanas wings
another baby gets into position under the father african jacana wing

The above images show the babies getting into position to fit under the wings.

all the babies are tucked under the african jacanas wings

All the babies are now stowed safely.

The babies will crawl under the wings and then he will carry them off to safety -- all you can see is many legs and feet dangling from under the wings.

The male African Jacana is carrying the babies.   You can see all the legs under the belly

It's hard to see in the grass, but if you zoom in, you can see all the little legs under the belly of the father Jacana.

The legs are tucked in a little higher but the feet are still dangling

The legs are tucked in a little tighter, but you can still see the tiny feet dangling under the dad.

It was hard to see with the grass, but the male did carry the young ones away and then later set them down.   We stayed with him for quite a while (at a respectful distance of course) in hopes he would pick them up...and our patience was rewarded.

Maybe one day, I'll get to see this when they are on a Lilly pad with a better view.   

As always, I'd love to know what you think about the African Jacana!

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