The Pheasant-tailed Jacana is a bird from Jacanas family. It is a group of waders that are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes, their preferred habitat. The Pheasant-tailed Jacana is capable of swimming, although it usually walks on the vegetation. The females are more colourful than the males and are polyandrous.
This is the only jacana to have a different breeding plumage. The Pheasant-tailed Jacana is a conspicuous and unmistakable bird. They are around 31 cm long, with the females larger than the males. During the breeding season, the long tail adds another 8 cm. The outermost primaries have a spatulate extension of 2 cm and the seventh primary has a broad protrusion.
Breeding adults are mainly black other than white wings, head, and fore neck. The hind neck is golden. There is a striking white eyestripe. The legs and very long toes are grey.
Non-breeding adults lack the long tail. The underparts are white except for a brown breast band and neck stripe. The side of the neck is golden.
Young birds have brown upperparts. The underparts are white, with a weak brown breast band.