Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Anhinghas in Florida

Florida Male Anhingha Warming In The Sun
Anhinghas, also called snake birds, are found throughout the state of Florida near water. Both sexes have black body feathers and white trim on the wings, as shown on the male above. Females have buff colored heads and upper necks, as shown below.
Female Anhingha
  This bird cannot waterproof its feathers, making it less buoyant and easier to dive. They fan their large tail feathers when swimming slowly underwater, leading to the "water turkey" name. This also means they chill faster than cormorants or ducks and they will often be seen with wings spread to warm in the sun.
Anhingha Chicks On Nest
Anhinghas are monogamous and both parents help raise and feed the chicks. Males develop a head crest and turquoise eye patch during mating season. Chicks hatch bald and soon grow pale tan down. They will remain on the nest until nearly adult-sized, continuously begging the parents for food.

Male Anhingha During Spring Mating Season

 Fish eaters, anhingas capture their food by spearing it on their sharp beaks. They then work the fish loose from the beak and toss it around until correctly positioned to swallow head first. This may be done in the water or on a perch above the water.

Anhingha With Small Catfish
Anhinghas are strong flyers and may go quite high. They often alternate between beating wings and short glides. They are not fast swimmers, seeking to surprise their prey among heavy weeds and other underwater cover. Still, shallow water provides the preferred hunting habitat.
Male Anhingha Warming At Sunrise

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