Anhinga anhinga Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Anhingas are large, dark water birds with a long, slender neck and a long, sharp, serrated bill. It is sometimes called the ‘snake bird’ because of the shape of its neck. Like cormorants, anhingas do not have oil glands for waterproofing their feathers and the feathers get wet when they are swimming. Both species will spread their wings to dry while perching.
Anhingas are also commonly seen basking. They lack the insulating layer of body feathers that other water birds have and use solar radiation to help maintain their body temperature.
Anhingas prefer coastal areas, lakes, marshes and mangrove swamps. They ‘stalk’ slow-moving fish and other aquatic prey underwater, until they get close enough to strike and spear the prey like a heron.
They are usually solitary birds, but are occasionally found among groups of herons, cormorants and ibises.
top of page | back to birds