Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) earned its nickname Snakebird for swimming with its entire body submerged, with only its sinuous neck and head showing. Like cormorants, they do not have waterproof feathers which is a boon for diving and swimming (waterproofing captures little air bubbles which make a bird more buoyant). However, it means a lot of time drying out in the sun since if they get too waterlogged, they can drown. A delicate balance, to be sure.

Oddly, the Anhinga is a waterbird with a penchant for heights. It often catches afternoon thermals and soars high in the sky in a distinctive cross shape. The name Anhinga comes from the Tupi language in Brazil and translates as “devil bird” – though I don’t know how it earned that moniker.


Heart-shaped Anhinga Wing, St. Petersburg, Florida March 2020

Categories: Nature Notes

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