The Snakebird – Ornithology


I wish to alternate my posts between scientific and philosophical musings with seems at some fascinating birds. Right now the chook is the Anhinga.

The phrase “anhinga” is derived from the native Brazilian Tupi-Guarani language phrase “ana’ĩnĩa,” which interprets to “satan chook”, “snake chook” or “evil spirit of the woods.” The Tupi folks (one of many largest indigenous teams of individuals in Brazil) named the chook due to its eerie look and looking conduct. Europeans adopted this identify which advanced into “anhinga,” the widespread English identify for the species. The scientific identify is Anhinga anhinga. {A lot of animal species have the identical identify for each genus and species, which creates a scientific identify often called a tautonym.)


Anhingas should not have oil glands to waterproof their feathers as most water birds do and the microscopic buildings of their feathers enable the water to penetrate via the feathers to the pores and skin. This makes them efficient swimmers, not having to battle a buoyant physique. Once they swim, most of their physique is underwater with solely the pinnacle and neck uncovered, resembling a swimming snake. After looking, Anhingas sit in shrubs and bushes with their again to the solar and stretch out their waterlogged wings to dry. Their plumage is primarily darkish brown or black with silver-white streaks and spots on the again and wings; the invoice is yellow, and the toes are webbed. They not often stroll on land however are glorious fliers. The pointed invoice and lengthy tail distinction with the same aquatic- dwelling cormorant which has a hooked beak and quick tail.

The Anhinga inhabits a wide range of wetlands, particularly these sheltered by bushes and primarily feeds on small fish, however it could additionally devour amphibians, crustaceans, leeches, and even small reptiles. It hunts by swimming stealthily via the water, utilizing its lengthy neck to spear fish. Moderately than chase a prey merchandise they look forward to it to come back shut sufficient to assault. The neck, particularly tailored to twist again into an S-shape, allows the chook to lunge ahead with nice drive. The chook is usually referred to as a “darter” due to this motion. As soon as the prey is impaled on its invoice, the Anhinga brings it to the floor to swallow it complete.

Breeding season for Anhingas begins with the males participating in elaborate courtship shows to draw females. The shows usually contain exaggerated actions of their lengthy necks, opening and shutting their payments, and spreading their wings to showcase their placing plumage. As soon as a pair has shaped, they construct a nest collectively in a colony, sometimes in bushes close to water our bodies akin to swamps, marshes, or lakes, excessive above the bottom. The feminine lays two to 5 pale blue eggs. Each mother and father share incubation duties for about 4 weeks. The hatchlings are altricial, that means they’re born bare and comparatively undeveloped, requiring appreciable care. The chicks develop quickly on a eating regimen of fish the mother and father convey them. After about seven to eight weeks, the chicks change into absolutely feathered and are able to fledge. At this stage, they depart the nest and start working towards their flying and looking expertise. The mother and father proceed to help and feed them throughout this transitional interval till they will fend for themselves.

There are 4 species of Anhinga within the household Anhigidae, one every in Northand and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.


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