Friday, May 16, 2014

Snake Bird

I went yesterday to Bob Bryant Park in Bastrop, TX to do some morning birding.  We have had some tremendous rains the last two days and the temperatures have dropped dramatically.  People on the listserv I frequent were talking about fallouts in the area.  So, off I went.  I was hoping to find some warblers, but it was not to be.  I did, however, have some good birds.  Not all was lost.  In fact, I am rarely disappointed by a birding trip.

Coming off the river just at the scenic overlook, I emerged into a wide open space and looked up at some Black Vultures and one hawk, which subsequently I knew was a Swainson’s.  Yet, out of the corner of my left eye came this other large bird very high up.  I put my binoculars on it and was surprised to identify it as an Anhinga.  Now, I have seen plenty of Anhingas perched on limbs of brush and trees overhanging freshwater ponds.  I wondered if I could get a photograph.  Pointing my camera, I click the shutter a couple of times.  Well, one of the photographs turned out, and so I have cropped it for this post. 

Anhinga (cropped photo)
Truly interesting birds, they often are observed swimming in water submerged with only their necks visible.  This is accomplished because their feathers can be saturated with water.  This is because of the feathers structure not from a lack of oil (as is the case for cormorants). Hence, Anhingas are given a colloquial name of snake birds.

They have a cervical structure that allows for the retraction of the neck so that it can be shot forward as a spear.  This behavior led to this species being called darters.

Anhinga (original photo)

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