Friday, January 1, 2016

Anhinga or Snakebird



The Anhinga or snakebird swims with just its head and neck above water and looks somewhat like a snake - and when wet and just out of the water it looks rather dark and unexciting, but when this magnificent bird perches to dry and clean its feathers in the sun its stunning beauty can be fully appreciated. One of the most spectacular birds to ever grace the area behind the Backyard it is generally only found in Florida and the immediate Gulf Coast of the USA in winter. The anhinga (/ænˈhɪŋɡə/; 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. When swimming the origin of the name snakebird is apparent: only the colored neck appears above water so the bird looks like a snake ready to strike. They do not have external nares (nostrils) and breathe solely through their epiglottis.
The anhinga is placed in the darter family, Anhingidae, and is closely related to Indian (Anhinga melanogaster), African (A. rufa), and Australian (A. novaehollandiae) darters. Like other darters, the anhinga hunts by spearing fishes and other small prey using its sharp, slender beak.

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Anhinga or Snakebird