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From Opus

Anhinga redirects here. For the genus Anhinga, see Anhinga
MalePhoto ©  by stejonFlorida, USA
Photo © by stejon
Florida, USA
Anhinga anhinga


[edit] Identification

L. 35" (89 cm); Ws. 45" (114 cm)

  • Slender
  • Dark body
  • Long tail and neck


  • Jet black with green iridescence
  • Dramatic silver and white markings on upper back and forewings
  • Long, sharp yellow bill
  • Red eyes with blue skin
FemalePhoto ©  by zerb21Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida, USA, January 2012
Photo © by zerb21
Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida, USA, January 2012


  • Dark brown overall
  • Lighter brown head, neck, and breast

[edit] Distribution

In the U.S., it is found all along the Gulf of Mexico coast, inland east Texas to Florida.

It is also found along a narrow strip on the southwest coast of Mexico, in Cuba (vagrant in the rest of the Caribbean), and in Central and South America from Guatemala, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago south to Argentina (but not Chile).

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Two subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • A. a. leucogaster:
  • A. a. anhinga:
FledglingPhoto © by bobsofpaVenice Rookery, Florida, USA, May 2015
Photo © by bobsofpa
Venice Rookery, Florida, USA, May 2015

[edit] Habitat

Freshwater ponds, lakes, and marshes.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Action

Dives frequently for fish, which it spears with its long sharp bill, then tosses them in the air until it can swallow them headfirst.

The colloquial name, Snakebird, can be quite descriptive when this bird is in the water - it swims with its body mostly submerged, and just the long sinuous neck above. On quick glance, it can thus appear to be a swimming snake. The other common posture is on a tree near or over water, where it spends hours with wings extended, drying in the sun; unlike ducks, it has no oil with which to waterproof its feathers, an adaptation to improve its diving ability.

[edit] Diet

Their diet consists mostly of fish, with the addition of frogs, newts and salamanders also featuring.

[edit] Breeding

Photo ©  by bobsofpaVenice Rookery, Florida, USA, February 2010
Photo © by bobsofpa
Venice Rookery, Florida, USA, February 2010

Monogamous. They often breed colonially and sometimes with Cormorants

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved August 2015)

[edit] External Links


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