With the discovery of pheasant-tailed jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) on June 26, Bhutan’s avian biodiversity count has reached 723.

Senior forester with Jigme Dorji National park (JDNP) Pema Kuenzang, photographed the bird at Dangochong, Soe range, Thimphu around 3pm when he and his friend were on cordycep duty.

He said he had always been interested in bird watching. “With this discovery, I am motivated to continue my interest.”

Breeding Jacana adults are mainly black with white wings, head, and fore neck but the non-breeding adults lack a long tail. It has golden hind neck with a striking white eye-stripe. It has grey long legs and toes.

With wide feet and claws, the birds’ preferred habitat is floating vegetation in shallow rivers and lakes. Unlike other birds, Jacanas are polyandrous with females being more colourful than males.

It usually breeds in India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and in Australia where it is recorded as vagrant.  Jacanas breed on floating vegetation from March to July except in India where it breeds in monsoon.

The pheasant-tailed jacana’s main food sources are insects and invertebrates found on the water’s surface.

Jacanas are around 39 to 58 cm in length. The males weigh about 113 to135g and females about 205 to 260 g.

Officials from Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) and JDNP identified the bird.

Ornithologist with UWICE Sherub, said that the bird is categorised in Least Concern bird by International Union for Conservation of Nature, which means that the pheasant-tailed jacana is enjoying a fairly stable population.  “What is interesting about the discovery is that it is a low land bird but was found at an elevation of about 4,000m.”

Karma Cheki