Anhinga - Pinto's Farm

Anhinga

(Anhinha anhinga)

Snakelike neck and long triangular tail with thin white bars and terminal buffy band; long, sharp, yellow orange bill; black body with iridescent green sheen; mottled white on shoulders and upper wing coverts. Female and Immature Light buff head, neck, and breast; lack white wing spotting.

Some anhingas live in Asia, in Africa and in Australia. They also live in America, from southern Arkansas to Argentina. They are quite common in Florida.

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    Description:

    The anhinga is a big bird, about 3 feet long from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail. The feathers are dark, sometimes green with silvery markings. Wings and tail may be bluish black. The eyes are pink surrounded by green skin. It has a long, straight bill and a Z-kink in its neck. The tail is long, made up of 12 wedge-shaped quill feathers. It has webbed feet.

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    Habits:

    Often forages with only the sinuous neck and head protruding above water. Sits with the wings spread to dry.

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    Voice:

    A Series of metallic “kaakk”s some reminiscent of cicada

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    Habitat:

    Rivers, Lakes ponds

    Abundance and Distribution Common to uncommon resident along the Atlantic and Gulf coast, mainland Florida and the keys; common to uncommon summer resident, uncommon to rare in winter, alosng the coast plain of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

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    Eats:

    Among birds, the anhinga is the best fresh-water diver. It goes down quietly and hardly makes a ripple. It finds its food in the water. It eats insects, frog eggs, fish and even small alligators. If an object is too large to be swallowed at once the bird spears it on his beak. Then he comes to the surface and flips it off, catches it and lines it up for swallowing.

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    Names:

    This strange bird goes by several names. The Indians who live near the Amazon River in South America call it “anhinga.” In North America it is called “water turkey,” “snake darter,” or “darter.”

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    Cycle of life:

    Anhingas like to make their nests in trees that hang over water. The male collects sticks and twigs which the female weaves into a nest. 3 to 6 eggs are laid and both parents incubate them. They hatch in about a month. The chicks are blind and naked but soon grow a coat of white down. They grow up so fast that when they are 2 weeks old they know what to do if danger threatens. They simply drop into the water and swim to a hiding place. After the danger is over they climb back to the nest if they can. They don’t just go on all four! They use all five; feet, wings and neck, in climbing. If they can’t get back to the nest they perch on a rock and their parents feed them there. After they grow their feathers, at 6 to 8 weeks, they are on their own.

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