Upright-perching Water Birds

Anhinga Anhinga
Anhinga anhinga


34-36" (86-91 cm). A blackish bird of southern swamps, shaped like a cormorant but with a very long, slender, S-shaped neck; a long, spear-like bill; and a long, fan-shaped tail. Male's plumage has greenish iridescence; upper surface of wings silvery gray. Female has tawny-brown neck and breast, sharply set off from black belly.


3-5 chalky blue eggs in a nest of sticks lined with fresh green leaves and built in trees. Often nests in colonies of Double-crested Cormorants.

Anhinga Male


Freshwater ponds and swamps with thick vegetation, especially where there are large trees.

Anhinga Female


Breeds near Atlantic and Gulf coasts from North Carolina to Texas, in Florida, and in Mississippi Valley north to southern Missouri and Kentucky. Winters along Gulf Coast north to South Carolina. Also in tropical America.


Low grunts like those of cormorants.


Also known as the "Snakebird," the Anhinga often swims with its body submerged and only its head and long slender neck visible above the water. Its long, dagger-shaped, serrated bill is ideally suited for catching fish, which it stabs and then flips into the air and gulps down headfirst. Cormorants and Anhingas lack oil glands with which to preen and so must perch with their wings half open to dry them in the sun. Anhingas often soar in circles high overhead.