Family Jacanas (Jacanidae)

Least Concern

Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea)


French: Jacana à crête German: Kammblatthühnchen Spanish: Jacana crestada

Parra gallinacea


, 1828,

Menado, Sulawesi


Validity of races uncertain and frequently challenged; apparently clinal increase in size from N to S, but considerable variation in size in any one population; supposed subspecific differences in tone of upperparts also seems variable; birds from Kai Is (SE Moluccas), where even status as a resident is uncertain#R, may represent a racially mixed and possibly unstable population, although general characters perhaps closest to those of novaeguinae and provisionally included in latter; species may be more appropriately considered monotypic#R, but further study required. Race novaeguinae sometimes emended to novaeguineae, but apparently without justification. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. g. gallinacea (Temminck, 1828) – SE Borneo, Sulawesi, SE Philippines (Mindanao), Moluccas and Lesser Sundas (Sumbawa to Timor).
  • I. g. novaeguinae#R (E. P. Ramsay, 1879) – W Papuan Is (Misool), Kai Is, Aru Is, lowland New Guinea (except S), Bismarck Archipelago (New Britain) and D’Entrecasteaux Is (Fergusson I).
  • I. g. novaehollandiae (Salvadori, 1882) – S New Guinea, N & E Australia S to Sydney.
  • Descriptive notes

    21–24 cm; male c. 75–97 g, female c. 120–168 g; wingspan 39–46 cm. Mantle, back and upperwing-coverts brown, rest of plumage black except white belly... read more


    Squeaky, high-pitched chittering or trilling calls have been described, including a shrill bugling... read more


    Floating, floating-emergent and emergent vegetation in freshwater wetlands (typically water-lilies... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and other invertebrates; seeds also recorded; in Northern Territory, Australia, the species took a wide variety of invertebrate (... read more


    Can breed year-round when floating vegetation persists, but only during wet season throughout most of range in Australia; Jan in Kalimantan... read more


    Dispersive. Sedentary on permanent wetlands. Not known to be migratory anywhere within range; the... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Not known to be threatened over most of range, but degradation or loss of wetlands is a continual threat and species is listed as... read more

    Recommended citation

    Jenni, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).