Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 50 - Darter

 A few weeks ago I posted some cormorants, but choose not to include these pictures: I think this bird deserves a post to itself.

This is a male Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) also know as the Snake Bird, for its habit of swimming with only its neck out of the water.

The long neck - and remarkably large webbed feet - allow it to hunt fish underwater.  It actually uses its beak as spear and stab its prey rather then grabbing it with its beak.  An interesting aspect of this birds biology is the fact that it does not (cannot actually) waterproof its feathers with naturally produced oils. This means that the birds feathers become waterlogged as it swims.  This is good news as it helps the bird to sink and chase fish, but bad news because the feathers do not keep the bird warm underwater.  If you have ever watched a duck pop back up to the surface of a lake and seem the water bead off its feathers you will have seen how effective the oils can be at repelling water.

The long and the short of this means that Darters have to spend a lot of time drying their feathers - and warming back up again after the chill of swimming.  So the birds we see with their wings spread in classic "drying mode" it may actually be be soaking up some sun warmth after the chill of a morning spend fishing.




Now its your turn to join in with WBW.  Click on the link below and off you go.  Visit, comment, invite and enjoy!



42 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

handsome fellow with his big, webbed feet. :)

Rajesh said...

Wonderful closeup shots of the bird.

Rajesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea said...

Oh what a big mouth you have ... oh what a long neck you have ... OH what big feet you have ... All the better to .... to ...
Well, he's really beautiful anyway, right in a homely sort of way. From the back in the last picture he really is beautiful. What a strange bird ... very much like the Cormorants, who also spend much time on the side drying their feathers. I love your blog ... you never cease to amaze me. And how about "50" weeks. Is that not awesome? I think you should design yourself a button to go with this meme. I think you are here to stay ... and I couldn't be happier for you.

Andrea @ From The Sol

Karen said...

My what big feet he has! Excellent shots!

Digi-Irma said...

Hi Stewart,
Beautiful series of snake bird.
Beautifully photographed, here comes this for only in the zoo.
Kind regards, Irma

HOOTIN ANNI said...

except for the colors and markings on the face, it's near similar to USA's Anhinga?!!

Love the feet!!

HOOTIN ANNI said...

ps....I had to giggle about your previous post and your kids locking you out in the cold. Now that would be something I would do ;-)

Brian King said...

I like those duck feet and the long tail! The bill is quite formidable!

Nora at Island Rambles said...

I love the first shot...never seen a darter...look at his feet!!! Wow you did get close to him...would love to see that. He is a bit like our cormorants like someone said. cheers.

HansHB said...

Great shots, lovely Close-ups!
Very good photowork!

Gary said...

I'm trying to figure out if he is somehow deprived. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Timur said...

Oh what a proud Little guy !!

Wonderful capture... I like it !

Greetings

Findlay Wilde said...

Isn't it brilliant how birds are shaped and designed for very special hunting. It amazes me. From Findlay

Heather Wilde said...

Ey up lad, cracking pictures. Nought like that in t'Yorkshire x

mick said...

Great photos of the Darter. Interesting to see the feet and how large they are - I haven't been close enough to a darter to see that.

Mama Zen said...

I love those big, webbed feet!

DIMI said...

Hi Stewart!!Exellent shots!!
Very preety bird!!!
Have a lovely day!
Dimi..

eileeninmd said...

Your Darter or Snake Bird is cool, great shots. I like the webbed feet too. The Darter or Snake bird is another name for our Anhinga. Thanks for sharing and thank for hosting WBW. Have a happy week ahead!

Neil said...

Great photos of the Darter I agree he needs his own post.

Rustic Vintage Country said...

Fabulous shots!

Frank said...

Very aptly named and super pics Stewart.

I have seen the American version but yours has a much more distinctive facial pattern.

Sharon Wagner said...

The top photo is a humorous catch. I do have to say that the oil on my face has never kept me warm. It only made my face break out.

gregory urbano said...

cool looknig bird, reminds me of an ahinga?

bailey-road.com said...

An impressive bird. I'd hate to be a fish on the end of that bill!

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Very informative post. Great photos too.

pattisjarrett said...

The pattern on the back of this bird are so unusual, and very pretty. What a unique beak, too.

Carletta said...

Very interesting info Stewart. I would guess getting cold and being weighted down with the water is a good incentive to stab that fish as quickly as possible. :)
A handsome bird and well captured with your camera!

Carole M. said...

they're amazing water-birds, alongwith the cormorants how they swim underwater like they do; neat post Stewart

Vineeta Yashswi said...

All shots are good but I like first shot a lot...

Arija said...

I've neve seen a darter laugh like that! Nice shots stewart.

DeniseinVA said...

Enjoyed reading about this very interesting bird, thanks Stuart. Great photos!

Kristi Bowman said...

My first thought was Cormorant, close but not quite right. What a great bird!!

Christina said...

Super cool bird!

Babs Helferich said...

Beautiful,
regards Babs

Gunilla Bäck said...

Beautiful bird with its big feet.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

What a great post, wonderful looking bird and what big feet for sure. Very interesting information along with superb images Stewart. Happy Wild Bird Wednesday, and week~

Pat Tillett said...

Beautiful photos of this fantastic guy! Thanks for the info also...

Kerri said...

I LOVE how you caught him with his mouth open!!!

grammie g said...

Hi Stewart ...I missed out on WBW had some troubles with internet!!
I had to comment on this of your's because this bird made me giggle!
Poor fella looks like he is made up of many different bird parts that just don't go together!!
When my children where little (Many moons ago) we had a Little Golden Story Book named the "Churkengoose" my kids loved it!! He was part chicken, turkey, duck, and goose, this bird reminded me of it!! Hee-hee!!

Grace

Phil said...

Amazingly large webbed feet (you captured them well) there Stewart and some amazing information about the drying out process this species has to undertake. Think I've only seen them in Africa where they are the Snakebird.

Ken Schneider said...

Your Darter is quite similar in appearance and habits to our Anhinga. I enjoy watching them in the lake behind our Florida home, and am amazed at how large a fish they are able to swallow. Sorry I missed posting to Mr Linky the past couple of weeks but I was out of contact with the Internet during our RV camping trip in Arizona. Best wishes and hope to join you next Wednesday!