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Welcome to Birdata 03 March 2015

Comb-crested Jacana: Trotting into South Australia

J.N. Davies

With its strange forehead-shield, long legs and novelty oversized feet, at first glance, the Comb-crested Jacana appears to be a particularly ungainly bird. However, anyone who has watched one nimbly picking its way across precarious platforms of floating aquatic vegetation would disagree. Similarly, those strangely elongated appendages would seem to render any attempts at long-distance movements problematical. Again, this is incorrect. Although there is no evidence that Jacanas undertake large-scale seasonal movements, some individual birds are capable of making long-distance flights, as odd birds occasionally turn up in the most unexpected places.

Most movements of the Comb-crested Jacana are probably in response to the prevailing condition of wetlands. As wetlands dry out, some birds may disperse to available stretches of water. This may have provided the impetus for two recent records of Jacanas in South Australia, at Bolivar (north of Adelaide), and near Elliston on the western coast of the Eyre Peninsula. It is unsurprising that both of these records coincided with unprecedented drought conditions throughout much of Australia. The nearest confirmed record of a Jacana is over a thousand miles away from Bolivar (and over 1400 kilometres from Elliston), at Bermagui, in south-eastern New South Wales (and that record was much further south than any previous sighting).

The accompanying map shows the isolated records of Comb-crested Jacanas in South Australia, graphically illustrating the gargantuan extent of the movements of these birds.

If you want to discover more information about this species or any other birds that occur in Australia, just take a little time to explore the Birdata website, or visit the BirdLife Australia website at www.birdlife.org.au . You never know what you might find.


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