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Let’s Talk About the Northern Jacana

Northern JacanaThe jacanas are a group of wetland birds, which are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone. In Jamaica this bird is also known as the ‘Jesus bird’, as it appears to walk on water.

The Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa) has a dark brown body with a black head and neck. In addition, its bill has yellow patches and its forehead has a yellow wattle. Its bill has a white base. When a jacana is in flight, its yellowish-green primary and secondary feathers are visible. Also visible are yellow bony spurs on the leading edge of the wings, which it can use to defend itself and its young. The greenish color of the wing feathers is produced by a pigment, rather rare in birds, called zooprasinin, a copper-containing organic compound.

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