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Comb-crested Jacana

Irediparra gallinacea

Quick facts

Size: Females average 26 cm including tail, 130 g; males are smaller.


Range and lifestyle: They inhabit dams and lagoons with an abundance of floating vegetation. Range is restricted to the coastal regions of north and east Australia.


Food: Aquatic invertebrates and seeds of aquatic plants.

Breeding: Females may have up to 3 partners, but males alone build a nest on the floating vegetation, incubate the eggs (usually 4) and care for the young.

  • ​​​Comb-crested Jacanas have a characteristic large red frontal shield.

  • They prefer floating vegetation in the wetlands, especially water-lily leaves so they are able to walk with ease at the surface of the water using their exceptionally long toes.

  • The downy young hatch able to walk and soon leave the nest. They already have long toes at birth.

  • If threatened, protective behaviour includes a unique ability to carry the young under their wings to a safer place, with their youngsters' feet often protruding.

  • They can make a variety of calls, twittering and piping sounds, often in flight or in upright pose, and possibly in defence of their territory.

  • They are sometimes referred to as Lotusbirds or Lilytrotters.


Text © Detlef Davies 2022 CC BY-NC-SA

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