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Tiny Heroes and the Epic Survival Tale of Jacana Chicks

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In the tender phase of their initial existence, two Jacana chicks, merely a day old, are already navigating the complexities of life. Their oversized feet, starkly contrasting with their small bodies, are a quirky feature and a vital adaptation for walking on floating lilies. These chicks, not yet masters of flight, find solace and mobility in their unique feet.

Jacana bird with its chickes
Jacana father carrying its chicks under his wings © Nature on PBS YouTube

A Father’s Vigilance

In their mother’s absence, the responsibility of safeguarding the chicks falls squarely on the father. His watchful eyes, always alert, scan the surroundings for dangers that lurk unseen. Though a picturesque abode, the floating lilies conceal a silent predator – a crocodile, its presence known only to the most attentive observer.

The Rescue

The father, proving the potency of his vigilance, discerns the concealed threat. He summons his chicks and, with a mix of urgency and care, tucks each under a wing. They are momentarily shielded from the lurking menace in this sanctuary of warmth and safety. The father, embodying the quintessence of parental protection, steers his chicks away from the jaws of danger.

YouTube video
© Nature on PBS YouTube

Jacana Quick Facts:

  1. Males Raise the Young: Males are responsible for incubating eggs and chick rearing.
  2. Walking on Water: Their long toes allow them to walk on floating vegetation.
  3. Diverse Diet: They feed on insects and invertebrates on the water’s surface.
  4. Habitat: Common in shallow lakes and swamps across sub-Saharan Africa.
  5. Polyandrous Mating: One female mates with multiple males.

The Delicate Balance of Nature

The African wetlands, a realm of beauty and danger, come alive in this captivating encounter. From the safety of the lily pads to the hidden threats beneath, this environment showcases nature’s delicate balance, where life’s fragility and resilience coexist.


The swift, protective response of the Jacana father in the face of danger vividly portrays the innate instincts that pulsate in the heart of the wild. Every movement and sound is a chapter in the unwritten book of survival, as intricate as the lilies they walk upon and as formidable as the predators they evade. Continuing these natural spectacles and preserving the ecosystems they grace is intertwined with our concerted conservation efforts.

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Latest posts by Cayla de Souza, M.Sc. Ocean Sciences & Marine Biology (see all)

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