Darter or Snake Bird (Anhinga melanogaster)

Darter or Snake Bird (Anhinga melanogaster)


It is a black cormorant-like waterbird with silvery grey streaks on the back, and a velvety brown head and neck. Chin and throat are whitish in color. The tail is long, stiff and wedge shaped. A slender, snake-like neck, narrow head and pointed dagger are identifying features. Both sexes are alike. It can be found singly or in loose parties, on tanks and jheels. While swimming, the body remains submerged. Only the slender snake-like neck shows above the surface, swaying and turning this way and that, aptly suggestive of the bird’s name. Its staple food is fish. The darter chases them below the surface with speed, wings held half open and head and neck swaying back and forth like a javeling-thrower posing his missile. Its nesting season in North India is from June to August and in South India is from November to February. The Nest is a twig platform built gregariously in trees amongst mixed heronries. They generally rest on trees and if startled and disturbed they fall down in to the water as if shot down and then dive and scatter in all directions before resurfacing again at safe distances.

This specimen is from Keoladeo Ghana National Park or the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan.

Also see https://youtu.be/jBg-3rtSgEI? (An Instinct Denied) , https://youtu.be/evPQBDq0CBk? (Kya Banega Phir Se Gharaunda. A Hindi Version of “An Instinct Denied”) for a fuller film produced by Srimaa Communication which discusses the breeding activity of water birds and the failure of nesting because of scarcity of water. It has studied the painted storks, the open billed storks, the darters, cormorants, cranes, egrets and the baya weaver bird in their wetland surroundings at Keoladeo Ghana National Park

┬ęSrimaa Communication

Acknowledgements-Dr. Yashpal Singh, Mrs. Neena Singh, Mr. Rajesh Bedi, Manoj Kumar Yadav

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