February 9, 2014

Anhinga anhinga

Family:  darter

The anhinga commonly seen in our waters is one of two Anhinga species found in the US.   In Florida it can be found year round.

Unlike ducks which can waterproof its feathers with oil produced by the uropygial gland, anhinga feathers can become waterlogged, necessitating it to dry its feathers — the characteristic open-spread of wings while perched.  The inability to waterproof its feathers allows it to dive and stay submerged for a longer period of time.

The male anhinga is black with silver/white feathers on its wings.  Females have a buff-tan neck.   During mating season the male’s eyes are encircled in blue.  Mating occurs in February.   Egg laying occurs between spring and early summer in nest 15 feet high on trees along bodies of water.

The anhinga can be differentiated from the similar looking double-crested cormorant by its wider tail and its pointed bill.  The bill of the cormorant is hooked.