African Darter.. or the “Snakebird”.

African Darter (Anhinga rufa )

This bird is often referred to as the snakebird, as it swims with its long thin neck above the water and the body below… It will climb onto a branch or rock to dry it’s feathers. Unlike other water birds the feathers do not contain any oil and therefore aren’t waterproof. This makes the bird less buoyant and its diving capabilities improve. After diving for fish, the feathers can become waterlogged. So to be able to fly it needs to dry its feathers. So it’s often seen sitting along the waterside spreading its wings and drying its feathers in the wind and the sun.

A few photos showing the neck that is quite odd at times and then drying off before flight…






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Rietvlei 25-5-2012 039

62 thoughts on “African Darter.. or the “Snakebird”.

  1. I’ll admit to scrolling up and down several times with this group of photographs Bulldog. So very beautiful, I just wanted to keep looking at each one! Spectacular shots!

  2. Interesting looking bird Bulldog. Looks like its neck has been stretched, but has yet to return to its rightful size – definitely snakelike.

    • Thanks Brian… they seem to get those necks to go just where they want as well… got photos yesterday of one sleeping with wings open and head lying straight back down it’s back soaking up the few rays of sun that shone yesterday…

  3. WOW!
    1) I haven’t known and seen this bird before, how interesting…
    2) Seems so exciting to watch them… For a moment I dreamed myself 🙂 there…
    3) You captured great actions of them… You are amazing.
    Thank you dear Rob, have a nice weekend, love, nia

  4. Strange birds indeed, with that departure from the oily norm. They do look like a rearing snake when swimming, except that all the swimming snakes I have seen (and they do it well) have not really lifted their heads.

    • I did mention in one of the other comments.. that I have never seen a snake swim with it’s head raised… so yes you are right on the button… still don’t know why they call it the snakebird…

  5. It really does look like a snake doesn’t it?! Wow – you have the most exotic wildlife there bulldog ~ I am so glad you are such a talented photographer and I can get a glimpse through your lens! Beautiful shots my dear friend ~ Much Love ~ RL

  6. That would be weird to see – a bird whose body is submerged while swimming! Do you have any pictures of it swimming stashed anywhere? That would be facinating to see!

  7. We see these in the canals here ALL the time! There must be a large population in the canal by the electrical substation on the next corner, because EVERY time we pass that spot (and we do so at least once a day) an anhinga or two is out sunning. I’ll never forget the first time I saw one in that canal with only its head raised above the waterline! Scared the crap out of me! I was SO sure it was a snake!

    • They seem to be pretty wide spread all over the world.. and I’ve been caught out a few times thinking it was a snake… but then I should know better, snakes don’t swim with their heads raised… but they are a good bird to capture wings spread…

  8. Aren’t they just gorgeous bulldog? I so love watching them here by us as well and you’ve captured them perfectly my friend! Great shots indeed and thanks for sharing. 😀 *big hugs*

    • When we went through there the other day calling on the courses.. I noticed you had quite a diverse bird life in your area… just not that easy to get to though…
      Thank you for the kind comment…

      • You were blessed indeed bulldog and yes, quite a lot of them here at the dam but not so easy to capture them if you don’t have a telephoto lens..but one day I will and then I am going to camp out there and take photo’s all day long. LOL!

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