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Northern Jacana - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Reini
Costa Rica, February 2005
Jacana spinosa


Photo by jeffworman
Sierpe River, Costa Rica, April 2017

17–23 cm (6¾-9 in); females are larger than the males

  • Black Head, neck, upper breast and upper mantle
  • Chestnut back and wing-coverts
  • Blackbelly
  • Greenish-yellow flight feathers
  • Yellow frontal shield, bill, legs and very long toes


  • White underparts
  • Brown upperparts
  • White head with a brown crown and eye stripe

Similar species

Wattled Jacana


Photo by Stanley Jones
Catie Lake, Turrialba, Cartago Province, Costa Rica, February 2014

Southern 3/4 of Mexico
Central America from Belize and Guatemala to western Panama, and Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica in the West Indies (vagrant to Puerto Rico).



There are 3 subspecies1:

  • J. s. gymnostoma:
  • North Mexico to Chiapas, Yucatán Peninsula and Cozumel Island
  • J. s. spinosa :
  • J. s. violacea:


Shallow wetlands (permanent or seasonally flooded) with floating vegetation. .


The wings are often raised when walking on the ground or over floating vegetation.


Polyandrous; the females defend 1–4 (usually 2) adjacent males and their territories. They construct a floating nest. The clutch consists of 4 black-marked brown eggs which are incubated by the male.


Their diet consists almost entirely of insects and other invertebrates, with addition of some plant material and seeds picked from the floating vegetation or the water's surface.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Dec 2017)
  3. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

External Links