T he Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana) is a common wetland bird that ranges from Panama and Trinidad and down into most of South America. In Guyana, it is known as ‘Spurwing‘ and can be found in the ponds at the Botanical Gardens, the Rupununi and other wetland areas.
The Jacana has large, bluish grey feet, which allow it to walk on top of water lilies as it forages for insects, invertebrates and seeds found on the surface vegetation.
The adults are approximately 17-23 cm long, with a mostly black body and head. They have a yellow bill that extends to a red face and wattle. Their wing coverts are rufous coloured and the underwings are a bright yellow and can be seen when the birds are in flight or upon landing when they hold their wings open in a display; this is when the long, sharp spur (after which they are named) on the elbow or bend of the wing can be seen. The young birds have white underparts with brown wings back, neck and cap. They have a yellow beak and a white eyebrow.
Jacanas are polyandrous, and will take up to 4 mates. The roles of females and males are reversed and the females are aggressive and court the males; the females will guard her mates and their nests and take the opportunity to destroy the eggs and nests of rival females.
The male Jacana’s responsibility is to incubate the 4 black spotted brown eggs laid in the floating nest and to raise the chicks.
Jacanas are not commonly hunted or used as a food resource and their conservation status is “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Rain forests are rich in biodiversity and are home to many different plants and animals. In addition, indigenous communities make their homes there. Even if you don’t live in the rain forest, humans rely on the forest for resources such as building materials (wood and lianas), medicine and fruits. Rain forests also provide essential environmental services for life on earth; they create soil as well as prevent soil erosion, produce oxygen though photosynthesis, maintain clean water systems, and are a key defence against climate change.
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