The length of the wattled jacana is about 10 inches. The head, neck, upper mantle, breast, central belly and under tail coverts are black. Elsewhere the coloration is a rich chestnut. Flight feathers are a pale greenish-yellow, very conspicuous in flight. Immature birds are very different, being sooty brown above and more blackish on the crown, with a white stripe above the eye and a black stripe behind the eye. Otherwise they are grayish-brown above, with the sides of the head and under-parts whitish. The bill of the adult is yellow with a two-lobed yellow frontal shield. The bill of the immature is brownish with a pinkish or lilac frontal shield. The legs are long and grayish, with extremely long toes. Their tails are short.