John Avise is winding down his series of faux ducks: waterfowl that people think are ducks but aren’t. Your job is to look at the photos and then guess the species. After trying, go below the fold for the ID, some Faux Duck Facts, and a range map.
Swimming partially submerged:
Breeding pair tending their stick nest in mangroves:
Female showing flexible neck and turkey-like tail:
Showing the snake-like neck:
Yawning and showing the gular pouch:
Swimming with only neck above water:
Head portrait of male:
Another head portrait:
Close-up view of head:
Characteristic flight silhouette:
Click “continue reading” to learn the species and some Fun Faux Duck Facts, as well as to see a range map:
ID: Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
This web-footed, surface-diving fish-eater (in the family Anhingidae) has a dagger-like bill that immediately distinguishes it from any duck. Unlike most ducks and other waterbirds, its plumage lacks waterproofing, necessitating that the birds sunbathe to dry out after each swim. [It seems that having water-soaked feathers may help the bird in its unique habit of submerging its body and swimming with only its head and snake-like neck protruding above the water’s surface of a pond or wooded swamp.] In the U.S., this species is confined to Florida and adjacent southeastern states, and that is where my pictures were taken. Males have a mostly all-black plumage (except on the wings) whereas females and juveniles are brown in the head, neck, and upper breast. Especially when in breeding condition, bright blue eyes and facial patches characterize these birds. Members of this species also have a pinkish gular pouch.
A range map from the Cornell Bird site: