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African Darter - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Snakebird

Anhinga rufa


An 80 cm (31 in) tall cormorant-like species with a very long neck.
It has a thin white lateral neck stripe against a rufous background colour.

Photo by GordonH
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, June 2010

The male is mainly glossy black with white streaking, but females and immature birds are browner, the white stripe is fainter or completely absent.

Similar Species

Similar to Oriental Darter.


Southern half of Africa and Madagascar.


Has been considered conspecific with Oriental Darter and Australasian Darter.


Photo by CollinBax
Rietvlie Cape Town, South Africa, May 2008

Three subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • A. r. chantrei
  • Wetlands of lower Tigris–Euphrates (Iraq, Iran); formerly also Turkey (where extirpated by early 1960s)
  • A. r. rufa:
  • A. r. vulsini:


It occurs in both saline and fresh water, especially near mangroves.


Often swims with only the neck above water.


Photo by silvo50
The Gambia, May 2008

They spear their prey (mainly fish but also other aquatic animals e.g. snakes, frogs, crustaceans etc.) underwater as they swim along.


This species builds a stick nest in a tree and lays 3-6 eggs. It often nests with herons, egrets and cormorants.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Birdsinbackyards

Recommended Citation

External Links

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