Anhinga at Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – OKALOACOOCHEE SLOUGH STATE FOREST
Photograph of an Anhinga taken at Okaloacoocheee Slough State Forest. Subject captured with a Nikon D90 camera and a Tamron 28-300mm zoom lens.
The Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), sometimes called Snakebird, Darter, American Darter, or Water Turkey, is a water bird of the warmer parts of the Americas. The word “anhinga” comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird.
It is a cormorant-like bird with an average body length of 85 cm (35 in), a wingspan of 117 cm (45 in), and a weight of 1,350 g (48 oz). It is a dark-plumaged piscivore with a very long neck, and often swims with only the neck above water. When swimming in this style the name Snakebird is apparent, since only the colored neck appears above water the bird looks like a snake ready to strike.
Unlike ducks, the Anhinga is not able to waterproof its feathers using oil produced by the uropygial gland. Consequently, feathers can become waterlogged, making the bird barely buoyant. However, this allows it to dive easily and search for underwater prey, such as fish and amphibians. It can stay down for significant periods.
When necessary, the Anhinga will dry out its wings and feathers. It will perch for long periods with its wings spread to allow the drying process, as do cormorants. If it attempts to fly while its wings are wet, it has great difficulty getting off the water and takes off by flapping vigorously while ‘running’ on the water. Anhinga will often search for food in small groups.