Following on from the previous update on the Jacana Nest, we sat with baited breath hoping to see something that I have only read about in books but really wanted to see in person. Jacanas have an interesting method of raising their chicks. We spoke briefly about polyandry, which is where the female will have multiple mates and give birth to a number of clutches of eggs during the year. The male mates with only one female and then takes on the sole responsibility of raising the chicks. He builds the nest, and then performs the entire incubation responsibilities without any assistance.
This does not end when the chicks hatch. Although able to feed themselves he keeps a very close eye on them and is constantly on the lookout for danger. His care extends further than this and he will then carry the chicks under his wings periodically for the next 18 days. And this, is what I was desperate to see.
While sitting and watching the little chicks walked towards the male and nuzzled up to him. Finally, I got to see it! The male picked two of them up tucked them firmly under his wings and revealed himself from the longer grass. In awe of the moment I am surprised I actually managed to get any pictures to share. We could see the tiny little chicks’ legs dangling out the bottom as he moved around.
After two to three weeks the male will have less and less contact with the chicks and eventually after 40 days or so, contact will cease altogether. It is around this point that the chicks will take their first flight. They are now well equipped to deal with any potential danger they may face.
It was such a privilege to be able to see them hatching and have a brief glimpse into their first 24 hours of life. We will definitely keep an eye out for any of these young chicks roaming around nearby as we drive past.