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Pheasant-tailed Jacana are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes, their preferred habitat. The Pheasant-tailed Jacana is capable of swimming, although it usually walks on the vegetation. The females are more colourful than the males This is the only jacana to have a different breeding plumage. The Pheasant-tailed Jacana is a conspicuous and unmistakable bird. Breeding adults are mainly black other than white wings, head, and fore neck. The hind neck is golden. There is a striking white eyestripe. The legs and very long toes are grey. Non-breeding adults lack the long tail. The underparts are white except for a brown breast band and neck stripe. The side of the neck is golden. Young birds have brown upperparts. The underparts are white, with a weak brown breast band.
Shallow ponds and lakes.
The Pheasant-tailed Jacana's main sources of food are insects and other invertebrates picked from the floating vegetation or the water's surface.