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Rare Northern Jacana photographed at Choke Canyon State Park
by Rita Arnst
Nov 12, 2009 | 2393 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sylvia Garcia-Smith photographed this rare Northern Jaçana at Choke Canyon over the weekend.
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Choke Canyon State Park (Calliham Unit) officials reported a sighting of a Northern Jacana on Nov. 1.

The Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa) generally does not fly this far north. It is a wetland bird from coastal Mexico to western Panama, and on Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola. Jacanas are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes. In Jamaica this bird is also known as the “Jesus bird” because it appears to walk on water.

The Northern Jacana was observed again on Nov. 2 for a considerable length of time in the same location. On Nov. 4, sometime between 9:30-10:30 a.m., the bird was relocated from the end of jetty and photographed. Later sightings include Nov. 5 from 9:30-10 a.m. and throughout the afternoon. Another sighting occurred on Nov. 6 from 9:35-10:10 a.m.

Professional nature photographer Sylvia Garcia-Smith said she was told on Wednesday (Nov. 4) about the rare bird by Paul Jaure, Choke Canyon State Park interpreter. “Birders are coming from all over to see it, since it’s not normally seen this far north,” said Garcia-Smith.

“I got in touch with Paul [Jaure] when I arrived and we went out to the inlet where the bird had been spotted. I didn’t see anything, so we hiked to another inlet and we still couldn’t see it. Finally, another photographer/birder came around behind us and pointed to where the bird was hanging out. Lo and behold, there was the bird. It was still too far out. But we were patient and finally the fog lifted and the sun came out, helping us to see it better. The bird is just absolutely gorgeous,” Garcia-Smith said.
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