Anhingidae – Anhingas, darters

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) by Dan

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (Psalms 91:4 KJV)


CLASS – AVES, Order – SULIFORMES, Family – Anhingidae – Anhingas, darters


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Latest I.O.C. Version
Species (4)

Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)
African Darter (Anhinga rufa)
Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae)
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

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The darters or snakebirds are mainly tropical waterbirds in the family Anhingidae. There are four living species, three of which are very common and widespread while the fourth is rarer and classified as near-threatened by the IUCN. The term “snakebird” is usually used without any additions to signify whichever of the completely allopatric species occurs in any one region. It refers to their long thin neck, which has a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged, or when mated pairs twist it during their bonding displays. “Darter” is used with a geographical term when referring to particular species. It alludes to their manner of procuring food, as they impale fishes with their thin, pointed beak. The American Darter (A. anhinga) is more commonly known as the Anhinga. It is sometimes called “water turkey” in the southern United States for little clearly apparent reason; though the Anhinga is quite unrelated to the wild turkey, they are both large, blackish birds with long tails that are sometimes hunted for food.

“Anhinga” is derived from the Tupi ajíŋa (also transcribed áyinga or ayingá), which in local mythology refers to a malevolent demonic forest spirit; it is often translated as “devil bird”. The name changed to anhingá or anhangá as it was transferred to the Tupi–Portuguese Língua Geral. However, in its first documented use as an English term in 1818, it referred to an Old World darter. Ever since, it has also been used for the modern genus Anhinga as a whole. (Wikipedia with editing)

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