Birds of the World

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Anhingas
 
 
 

TRAITS
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Totipalmate Swm

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 OSCINES
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Pelecaniformes - Anhingidae
 
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Pelecaniformes
Families: Tropicbirds, Gannets and Boobies, Pelicans, Cormorants, Anhingas, Frigatebirds,
      Hamerkop, Shoebill
 
Skip to:  
All Tropicbirds, All Sulids, All Pelicans, All Cormorants, All Anhingas, All Frigatebirds,
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
 
Skip to:  
Plunge Diving, Relative Sizes of Pelicans, Identifying Frigatebirds
 
Species:  
Red-tailed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Australian Pelican,
Brown Pelican (Galapagos), Peruvian Pelican. Pied Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant,
Brandt's Cormorant
, Neotropic Cormorant, Rock Cormorant, Imperial Cormorant,
Red-legged Cormorant, Flightless Cormorant, Great Frigatebird
 
Images:   
Red-billed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant,
Anhinga, Magnificent Frigatebird, Totipalmate toes, Gular pouch, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Masked Booby, Northern Gannet, Brown Pelican. Anhinga, Great Frigatebird
 
  Family Anhingidae - Anhingas, Darters
Wiki     ToL     EoL
EXAMPLE
  4 species, 1 genus (Anhinga) (Sibley and Monroe, 1990) or 2 species placed in 1 genus (Dickinson, 2003, Harris, 2009, and Clements, 2007) - the latter authors lump the African, Oriental, and Australian Darters into one species, Anhinga melanogaster. They are found in tropical or near tropical areas of the Americas, Africa, southeast Asia, and Australasia. Anhingas are thought to be related to cormorants (they may be sister taxa) and to sulids. These groups could be included in the Phalacrocoraciformes with Pelicans (closer relatives of storks) being moved elsewhere.
Anhingas are diving birds, also known as snakebirds (because they often swim submerged with just the neck and head showing above water) or darters (because of their rapid swimming and methods of capturing food).
   Anhingas occur in the tropics and subtropics around the world. They are usually found in freshwater swamps, lakes and streams. They fly with several flaps and a glide or soar in thermals. In flight they have a cross-like appearance (long wings, thin tail, and straight neck).
Anhingas have a moderately large gular pouch. Their bill is yellow. Males have a bright bluish eye-ring. The gular sac also changes from pink or yellow to black and the bare facial skin turns turquoise. The iris also changes color seasonally.
   The bill is slender, straight and pointed and the mandibles are serrated. There is no lateral groove on the beak. Their nostrils are rudimentary. Their palate is desmognathous. Anhingas have a long, slender neck. The 8th and 9th cervical vertebrae are modified to allow a "S" shaped curve with the angle at the 8th vertebra. When contracted, a muscle inserting on the 8th vertebrae thrusts the neck and head sharply forward enabling the "darter" to spear a fish. The bird retrieves this fish by tossing it in the air and catching it. The outer webs of their central tail feathers have transverse corrugations - the tail is long and fan-shaped. Their wings are long and broad. Their legs are short and they have 4 fully webbed toes (totipalmate). Their legs are set well-back on the body.
   Males are usually black with white scapulars and wing coverts. Females have a pale brown head, neck, and breast and are browner to whitish below. They have a wing span approaching 4'. Anhingas are usually solitary. They are found on slow moving brown water rivers, lakes, ponds and marshed and wooded swamps. They may also be found in coastal estuaries with mangroves
      They hunt underwater using their feet for propulsion. They feed on fish but may eat a few amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. At the surface, they may swim partially submerged. They spend their non-foraging time perched on branches over water.   They spread their wings to dry. Their plumage is wettable (they have a vestigial preen gland) and this reduces buoyancy but requires that, after swimming, they spread their wings for a long period of drying.
    Anhingas are monogamous. They nest in pairs or small colonies. They build stick nests, usually over water. They lay 3-5 eggs which are incubated (partly on the feet) for 4 weeks. Incubation begins with the first egg so young hatch asynchronously. Chicks hatch naked but rapidly acquire a natal down. They are fed regurgitated items are first, followed by entire fish later. Young may leave the nest in 2 weeks (swimming in the vicinity) but they don't fly until they are about 6 weeks old. They mature sexually in about 2 years and may live for 9 years or more.
   Their eggs are edible and are locally collected. Adults may be eaten but they have an unpleasant taste. Young are sometimes raised as fishers but this culture seems to be disappearing.
Anhinga
 
Male Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga.
Magnolia Plantation. Photo by Ed Konrad
                                           SI Web
 
 
All Darters:

   Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga. Swamps, streams, lagoons, mangroves, lowlands of southeastern United States and Neotropical areas from
      central eastern states south to Colombia and Venezuela and western Ecuador to Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay to Uruguay and northern
      Argentina. Local in Cuba and southern Lesser Antilles.
   African Darter, Anhinga rufa. Swamps, lakes, streams, fields. Africa from Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia east through Mali, Niger, Chad and
      Sudan to Ethiopia and Somalia and south to South Africa and Madagascar.
   Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster. Swamps, marshes, lakes, flooded fields. Lowlands in southern Asia and Malay Archipelago to
      southern Iraq and from India and Ceylon east to Burma, Thailand, Indochina, and Malayaya. Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Sulaweis, Philippines.
   Australian Darter, Anhinga novaehollandiae. Rivers, lakes, lagoons, estuaries, swamps - lowlands of Australian region in New Guinea and
      Australia.

   The Oriental and Australian Darters are closely related and are often considered conspecific. The next closest relative is the African Darter and the Old World forms may be a single species. The Anhinga is the most distantly related but the whole complex may be but one species (Sibley and Monroe, 1990). Dickenson (2003) and Clements (2007) both unite the Old World species into one, the Darter, while keeping the Anhinga separate.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
 







   
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