AnhingaAnhinga anhinga

adult male
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult male
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult female
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult female
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult male
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult female
Bill Gozansky/VIREO
immature
Greg Lasley/VIREO
Anhinga
Anhinga

Family

Description

34-36" (86-91 cm). A blackish bird of southern swamps, shaped like a cormorant but with a very long, slender, S-shaped neck; a long, spear-like bill; and a long, fan-shaped tail. Male's plumage has greenish iridescence; upper surface of wings silvery gray. Female has tawny-brown neck and breast, sharply set off from black belly.

Voice

Low grunts like those of cormorants.

Listen

begging young in nest
croaks of adult

Habitat

Freshwater ponds and swamps with thick vegetation, especially where there are large trees.

Range

Breeds near Atlantic and Gulf coasts from North Carolina to Texas, in Florida, and in Mississippi Valley north to southern Missouri and Kentucky. Winters along Gulf Coast north to South Carolina. Also in tropical America.

Discussion

Also known as the "Snakebird," the Anhinga often swims with its body submerged and only its head and long slender neck visible above the water. Its long, dagger-shaped, serrated bill is ideally suited for catching fish, which it stabs and then flips into the air and gulps down headfirst. Cormorants and Anhingas lack oil glands with which to preen and so must perch with their wings half open to dry them in the sun. Anhingas often soar in circles high overhead.

Nesting

3-5 chalky blue eggs in a nest of sticks lined with fresh green leaves and built in trees. Often nests in colonies of Double-crested Cormorants.

Similar Species

adults, breeding

Double-crested Cormorant

30-35 (76-89 cm). A solidly built black cormorant with orange throat pouch and long neck. Long hooked bill tilted upward when bird swims.

Vireo

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