Living Bird Magazine
- ORDER: Suliformes
- FAMILY: Anhingidae
A dark body stealthily swims through a lake with only a snakelike head poking above the surface. What may sound like the Loch Ness monster is actually an Anhinga, swimming underwater and stabbing fish with its daggerlike bill. After every dip, it strikes a regal pose on the edges of shallow lakes and ponds, with its silvery wings outstretched and head held high to dry its waterlogged feathers. Once dry, it takes to the sky, soaring high on thermals stretched out like a cross.More ID Info
Find This Bird
When Anhingas aren't slyly swimming through shallow waters with only their head sticking out, they are easy to spot hanging themselves out to dry. Look around the borders of lakes and ponds with forested edges for a sunning bird. In the heat of the late afternoon, look up in the sky for Anhingas taking advantage of rising thermals. Despite being a waterbird, they soar quite well and are frequently seen soaring at great heights with a distinctive cross-shaped silhouette.
- Anhinga Americana (Spanish)
- Anhinga d'Amérique (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Anhinga's distinctive shape earned it the nickname "water turkey" for its turkeylike tail, and "snake bird" for its long snakelike neck as it slithers through the water.
- Unlike most waterbirds, the Anhinga doesn't have waterproof feathers. While that may seem like a disadvantage for their watery lifestyle, their wet feathers and dense bones help them slowly submerge their bodies under the water so they can slyly stalk fish.
- The name Anhinga comes from the Tupi Indians in Brazil, meaning "devil bird" or "evil spirit of the woods."
- The oldest recorded Anhinga was at least 12 years old.