LILY TROTTER: The comb-crested jacana can spread its weight and walk across lily pads.
LILY TROTTER: The comb-crested jacana can spread its weight and walk across lily pads. Contributed

Briggsy's Birds: Treading lightly on region's waterways

A MOST intriguing bird is the Comb-crested Jacana, otherwise known as the Lily Trotter or Jesus Bird, for its apparent ability to walk on water.

It has very long toes that allow it to spread its weight as it walks over lily pads, giving the appearance of walking on water.

It has a bright red comb on its head, white neck and throat which flushes to an orange colour at the top of the breast and then a black breastband and finally white to the tail. The wings are dark brown.

It spends its entire life eating, sleeping and breeding on the lily pads in a wetland.

A mating pair build a floating nest of vegetation and after the female lays the eggs, it is the male who incubates them.

When the chicks hatch, the male is very protective and if any danger approaches he will scoop the young birds under his wings and carry them off to safety.

It is a strange sight to see four pairs of legs hanging down under the adult bird as he walks across the lily pads.

You can see a photograph of this remarkable behaviour on the ABC web site at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-27/combcrested-jacana-waterbird-carrying-chicks-to-safety/10737512

You can see them on any wetland with water lilies such as at Tondoon Botanic Gardens or Reg Tanna Park.

If you are interested in joining like minded people to particpate in local birding trips then you can join BirdLife Capricornia who have a range of monthly activities.

They are a branch of BirdLife Australia and you can join online or print out a paper form from their web site https://support.birdlife.org.au/birdlife-membership .

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia. Send your bird questions to abriggs@irock.com.au.