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African Darter

Afrikaans name: Slanghalsvoël

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African Darter showing its snake-like neck

Photo © Steven Herbert

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African Darter sunning itself at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Anhinga rufa

The African Darter is sometimes given the unfortunate sounding name of Snake Bird. Presumably this is a reference to its long neck.

This bird is always found in or near water. It will either be swimming, with just its neck showing, diving underneath the water in search of food or sitting on a stump.

The African Darter uses its sharp bill to spear fish under water. It will then bring it to the surface and manoeuvre it into its bill, head first, and swallow it.

The pair build a nest out of sticks in a tree often in association with herons, egrets and spoonbills. Up to 6 eggs are laid.

Surprisingly these birds do not have water proof plumage which is why they are often seen drying or sunning themselves.

Males are darker than females.

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