An anhinga sits on a barbed wire festooned post in the south prong of the Alafia River on a Nobember morning in eastern Hillsborough County, Florida watching for movement that might be its next meal. The anhinga or American darter�(anhinga anhinga) can be found throughout the Americas from the southeastern United States to Argentina. Because it lacks the oils and types of feathers used to keep birds warm, they are restricted to the warmer climes. It is also called the black darter, water turkey, or snakebird. For other names refer to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site.
There are three other darters found around the world: the African darter, the Australian or Australasian darter, and the Indian or Oriental darter.
The word anhinga comes from the Brazilian Tupi language, which means devil bird, an evil spirit of the woods.�The anhingas or darters, and cormorants are all part of the order suliformes. They were once part of the same family but have been separated into two families, anhingidae and phalacrocoracidae respectively.
Anhingas are large waterbirds 29" to 37" in length with a wingspan of up to 43". They have slender bodies, thin necks,�thin pointed beaks, �and a long fan-like tail. Their feet are webbed. The males are black with a green iridescence, silvery white wing patches, and white spots on its wings and back. Females have a pale brown or beige neck and breast and�juveniles are brownish.
January 9th, 2016
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