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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

African Darter

Afrikaans name: Slanghalsvoël

African Darter sunning itself at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

African Darter sunning itself

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.

African Darter sunning itself at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

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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References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Year Published: 1983 - Page: 35

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1959 - Page: 190

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 190

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 52

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 12

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 2

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Year Published: - Page: 17

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 13

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 7

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Year Published: 2005 - Page: 3

Everyone's Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 40

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 24

Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Year Published: 1988 - Page: 50

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 1984 - Page: 64

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 2000 - Page: 64

Questions and Answers - Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Year Published: 1990 - Page: 20

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 409

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Year Published: 1949 - Page: 19

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 25

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1981 - Page: 29

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 43

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 43

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 52

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 56

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 8

Wild Issue 37 - Author: - Year Published: 2016 - Page: 68

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 28

List of South African Birds

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