African Jacana

Scientific Name:
Actophilornis africanus
Sub-Saharan Africa

About the African Jacana

The African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus) is a unique bird species found in sub-Saharan Africa, known for its long toes and striking appearance.


African Jacanas are commonly found in shallow freshwater habitats such as marshes, swamps, wetlands, and the edges of lakes and slow-moving rivers. They prefer areas with abundant vegetation, including floating vegetation such as water lilies, where they can walk on their specialised long toes to forage for food.


African Jacanas are relatively small birds, measuring around 23 to 28 centimeters (9 to 11 inches) in length. They have long legs and toes, which enable them to walk on floating vegetation and navigate through their watery habitats with ease. Their plumage is mainly brown and buff-coloured, with striking black markings on the wings and a chestnut-coloured head and neck during breeding season.

Best Viewing

The best places to view African Jacanas are wetland areas and freshwater habitats within their range. Look for them walking on floating vegetation or along the edges of water bodies, where they search for aquatic invertebrates, insects, small fish, and seeds. Birdwatching hides or observation platforms near wetlands and lakeshores may offer excellent opportunities for viewing African Jacanas up close without disturbing them.