Created on Day 5
June 27, 2012
The anhinga’s neck, bill, and feet all help it catch prey. The neck can be bent back in an S-shape, and the powerful neck muscles, when tightened, enable the bird to thrust its head forward with great force, like a harpoon. The bill is straight, sharp, and pointed, in the form of a dagger.
- The anhinga has a small head and a long, slender neck. It uses its long and serrated bill to spear fish. Its webbed feet help it swim.
- Males are black with greenish irridescence and adult females have a buffy neck and breast. Both sexes have silvery-white spots and streaks on wings and upper back.
- The anhinga sheds its flight feathers all at once, which makes it unable to fly for a while. During this time, it is totally silent so it doesn’t reveal its location.
- The anhinga is also called water turkey, snake bird, or darter.
- It swims with only its head held out of the water.
- The anhinga’s feathers are not waterproof, so after spending some time in the water fishing, it comes out, perches on a rock or tree limb, and spreads its feathers to dry and warm in the sun.
CLASS: Aves (birds)
ORDER: Pelecaniformes (pelicans, tropicbirds, cormorants, and relatives)
FAMILY: Anhingidae (anhingas and darters)
GENUS/SPECIES: Anhinga anhinga
Size: Body 3.3 ft (1 m); wingspan 4 ft (1.2 m)
Weight: Average 3 lbs (1.4 kg)
Diet: Primarily fish
Habitat: Swamps, coastal bays, lakes, marshes, and lagoons with shrub and tree-covered lands in the southeast U.S., central America, and eastern South America