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Last Update: 27 Mar 2017
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Totally PA_Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)Totally PA_Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)

Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)


Family: ANHINGIDAE

PictureA small family of only four species of cormorant-like birds, one in the Neotropics, one in Africa, one in Asia, and one in Australia.

Anhingas chase fish underwater and can remain submerged for long periods. The neck is very long and snake-like. Unlike cormorants, anhingas have straight, dagger-shaped bills, but like cormorants, their feathers become waterlogged and they spend a lot of time standing in the sun drying their outstretched wings.

One species is resident in the Greater Sundas.

Description: Unmistakable, large (84cm), cormorant-like waterbird with very long, slender neck and small narrow head. Head and neck brown with white chin stripe extending down side of neck. Rest of plumage blackish with white plume-like covert feathers, with black edges.

Iris - brown; bill - yellowish brown, black culmen ridge; feet - grey.

Voice: Rattling and clicking calls. Screams during courtship.

Distribution and status: Recorded in S Sumatra as a visitor from Java or probably resident. In Borneo it remains a common resident on rivers but has apparently disappeared from most coastal areas. Once a common bird on Java (where recorded to 1400m), it is now local, and there are few recent records from Bali.

Habits: Lives in large stretches of clean fresh water in lakes and big rivers where it is an amazing diver, spending long periods under water. It can reduce buoyancy so that only the head comes out of the water but, thus waterlogged, has difficulty running and flapping over the water to get airborne. Spends many hours sitting on an exposed perch with wings\held out to dry; roosts communally in open trees.