After doing some research, I found out the bird was an Anhinga. It is also known as the Snakebird for its habit of swimming with its long neck and narrow head sticking out of the water while its body remains submerged. This behavior gives it a very serpentine appearance. Anhingas are also known as Water Turkeys, owing to its long, buff-tipped, broad tail. Other names include American Darter, Darter, Grecian Lady and Water Crow. The word "anhinga" is derived from the Brazilian Tupi tribal name for "devil bird".
As illustrated by the next sequence of photographs, prey is often speared with the Anhingas long, sharp bill, manipulated and flipped into the air so it can be swallowed head first. Sometimes the bird must swim to shore to pry the fish off its beak by rubbing it against rocks or limbs.
A small fish is speared
The Anhinga attempts to release the fish from its sharp bill by maneuvering its neck in a jerking fashion
After several rapid, strange-looking neck contortions, the fish is flipped off the bill
Oh what a catch!
Down the hatch!Most waterbirds have oil glands which help waterproof their plumage. Anhingas do not. Because their feathers are less water resistant, they are able to swim and dive underwater more adeptly.
The Anhinga diet consists mainly of small fish but they also eat leeches, frog eggs, shrimp, amphibians, small snakes and young alligators.
Perhaps this Anhinga is considering adding another moniker to the name list
A few interesting facts about this bird:
- Young Anhingas can swim before they learn how to fly. In order to avoid danger, juveniles will jump into the water.
- On rainy days, these birds can be seen neck and head stretched skyward, keeping perfectly motionless. This behavior allows the water droplets to glide off its plumage easily.
- The shedding of flight feathers happens all at once for Anhingas, thus it is unable to fly for a while. While the new feathers grow in, the bird remains totally silent. So as not to attract predators to its location.
Anhingas are very fascinating birds, indeed!
Posted by Julie Gidwitz