Kakadu National Park

The comb-crested jacana is also known as the lotus bird, lily trotter or Jesus bird, as it often seems to be walking on water.

What it looks like

This bird is named for its fleshy red forehead comb. Adult jacanas have a black crown, back and breast and a white belly, face and throat. Young jacanas resemble the adult birds but are less colourful.

Jacanas’ long toes let them spread their weight to walk across the floating vegetation of Kakadu’s freshwater wetlands.

Where to see it

Comb-crested jacanas are rarely seen on dry land, but you will certainly spot them on the floodplains, where they walk elegantly across lily pads looking for food.

Try Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba) near Cooinda or the Kungarre walk and Mamukala wetlands, where their numbers build up towards the end of the dry season.


Female comb-crested jacanas abandon their partner after laying eggs. The male will incubate the eggs and keep a watchful eye on the chicks. If dad senses a threat, he picks the chicks up under his wings and carries them off to safety.

Other names

  • Scientific name: Irediparra gallinacea