The African Jacana is nimble as it walks across lily pads in the Okavango with its oversized feet. As this Nature on PBS clip explains, “They’re not ideally adapted for running for flying, but getting around on floating lilies, that is their specialty.” And these fluffy babies are experts almost as soon as they’re born.
They are not experts when it comes to predators, especially apex predators like the crocodile. Luckily, their devoted father is. Watch as he scoops both chicks up in his wings and skillfully carries them to safety. (No, that’s not a six-footed bird.)
The jacana has evolved a highly unusually polyandrous mating system, meaning that one female mates with multiple males and the male alone cares for the chicks. Such a system has evolved due to a combination of two factors: firstly, the lakes that the jacana lives on are so resource-rich that the relative energy expended by the female in producing each egg is effectively negligible. Secondly, the jacana, as a bird, lays eggs and eggs can be equally well incubated and cared for by a parent bird of either gender. This means that the rate-limiting factor of the jacana’s breeding is the rate at which the males can raise and care for the chicks.
Plus, more babies. Watch these next: Running Baby Flamingos, Mandarin ducklings dive from unbelievably high heights, and hummingbird hatchlings.
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