Beauty and the Beast – April 2012

Shot of the Month – April 2012

The well-known fairy tale, The Beauty and the Beast, is centered around two characters. The first is a young woman, aptly named “Belle” who embodies all that is beautiful in the world.  The second character, the “Beast” is wild and grotesque and a perfect foil to Belle.

This month I offer you the African Jacana, a creature that could make this play into a one “man” show. (The one shown here was photographed in Botswana)

Starting from the top the Beauty is easy to see.  The blue forehead and bill are in stark contrast to the black head and bright white neck.  Look a bit lower toward the base of the neck and we find a lovely golden necklace that leads us to the body which is adorned in a dark, rich chestnut color.

Stop there, the end of Act One, and we have a truly lovely bird.

Act Two begins as our gaze continues lower, and here we encounter nothing but the Beast.

Check out those Gargoyle legs?!  The disconnect is jolting. An exquisitely colored, delicate little bird which suddenly transforms into a Pterodactyl.

Although those feet are not terribly attractive, they are incredibly effective at allowing the African Jacana to walk across floating leaves or lily pads, where these birds spend much of their time looking for food.  Those super-long toes spread the bird’s weight out over a large surface area allowing them to stay afloat.  Jacanas are so adept at skimming across the top of the water (or so it appears at a distance) that they are also referred to as the “Jesus Birds.”  (get it?)  Perhaps more accurately, the jacana is also known as the “Lily Trotter.”

Here you can see those wondrous feet in action:








There you have it, the African Jacana, beautiful in form and in function, though perhaps not at the same time.

Until next month…..:-)