Definitions for jacana
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A group of wading birds in the family Jacanidae, usually having long toes and claws and found throughout the world.
Origin: Brazilian jaçanã, from
any of several wading birds belonging to the genus Jacana and several allied genera, all of which have spurs on the wings. They are able to run about over floating water weeds by means of their very long, spreading toes. Called also surgeon bird
Origin: [Cf. Sp. jacania.]
The jaçanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone. See Etymology below for pronunciation. Eight species of jaçana are known from six genera. The fossil record of this family is restricted to a recent fossil of the Wattled Jaçana from Brazil and an Pliocene fossil of an extinct species, Jacana farrandi, from Florida. A fossil from Miocene rocks in the Czech Republic was assigned to this family, but more recent analysis disputes the placement and moves the species to the Coraciidae. They 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 have sharp bills and rounded wings, and many species also have wattles on their foreheads. The females are larger than the males; the latter, as in some other wader families like the phalaropes, take responsibility for incubation, and some species are polyandrous. However, adults of both sexes look identical, as with most shorebirds. They construct relatively flimsy nests on floating vegetation, and lay eggs with dark irregular lines on their shells, providing camouflage amongst water weeds.
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