Scientific Name: Anhinga Anhinga
The Black Anhinga is an interesting bird that is 32-36 inches in height (a little bit smaller than a Great Blue Heron). This bird has an impressive wingspan of up to 4 feet and weighs up to 3 lbs. Some of the first physical characteristics you’ll notice about the Anihina is its blackish, very long, thin, neck. It has a small snakelike head with long pointed bill which makes it very well suited to fishing.
Anhingas dive under water for prey. They spear their prey with their pointed beak like an arrow. Sometimes an Anhinga’s thrust is so powerful that it has to swim to shore and pry the fish off its beak by rubbing it against a rock. They primarily eat fish, but will also eat aquatic insects, crayfish, leeches, shrimp, tadpoles, frog eggs, and even young alligators and water snakes.
Usually Anhingas are found nesting and roosting in trees and bushes in freshwater swamps, lakes, sluggish streams in sheltered and murky waters. The Anhinga, like other aquatic birds, loves vegetation.Although it doesn’t eat the vegetation, these birds use it for protection from predators. Near coastal areas, Anhingas can be found around brackish lagoons, and in mangroves.
The female anhingas have a pale brown head, neck, and breast The males are almost completely black. A juvenile Anhinga is brownish in color to help it stay camouflaged from predators.
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An Anhinga needs to dry its wings off before it can fly again.
Anhingas can be found in most areas of the Western Hemisperhe. Most resources credit the Anhinga with living from the Southeastern United States (Florida and the Mississippi River delta) all the way down to Argentina.
Unlike like other birds who spend most of their days in water (like a duck), an Anhinga’s feathers are not waterproof. This is a good characteristic, because it allows the Anhinga to dive deeper than birds with waterproof feathers. But, it also has it downfalls. When an Anhinga swoops down into a body of water to capture its food, its feathers quickly become water-logged. When an Anhinga is water-logged, it is unable to fly. Thus the Anhinga must dry itself off by holding its wings outstretched, allowing the sun to dry the feathers before it can take off again.