Diners, Dryers, and Dives

Well, if you are a fan of Food Network, then you probably caught that the post title is a play on Guy Fieri’s popular show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. But the words really are true of Anhingas – a bird that you are sure to see if you go wandering around the wetlands of Florida.

Female Anhingas have brownish tones…

…while the males are silky black with beautiful white wing markings.

So many times, when I see these birds in the water, I think I am looking at a snake because of the way they swim with just their heads sticking out. I wasn’t surprised to find out (via the wonders of Google) that the name Anhinga actually means “snake bird.”

These birds are expert divers and disappear beneath the surface to hunt for fish, which they catch by spearing with their dagger-like bill. I was walking along the path at Orland Wetlands, with my eye on an Osprey, when this gal emerged at the water’s edge, ready to dine on a freshly caught fish. If you look closely, you can see her bill poking all the way through the fish. An expert harpoon job!

She brought it to the surface and flipped it into the air to get it “unstuck” and then caught it again.

Then she tossed it around a bit, to get it into a good position to eat.

And when everything was lined up right, she swallowed that fish whole. It was so, so fascinating to watch!

After Anhingas dive and dine, they need to dry! Though they have webbed feet like a duck, they do not have waterproof feathers. That’s why you will so often see them perched and staying in place with their wings spread wide. Wet feathers weigh them down and make it hard to fly.

The first time I saw these birds I thought they were kinda creepy looking, but now that I have had the chance to watch them in action, I find them extremely cool.

And have I mentioned that I am already itching to get back to Titusville? Who knows, maybe when January rolls around there will be a return visit.

12 thoughts on “Diners, Dryers, and Dives

  1. Excellent work, Kathy! You have documented a series of scenes not many people has seen in close-up! Kudos!… πŸ™‚

  2. Whoa! I had to scroll quickly through those closeups of the fish going down. Great shots, but oh my! I have never seen these birds, they ARE pretty cool!

  3. Thank you for showing me a new bird! Ospreys I know well, and follow one as she migrates yearly back to Missoula, Montana (via webcam). But Wow!!! Now I am really interested and will look Anhingas up. You never know when one might show up in Central Park, Manhattan (assuming they migrate)!

  4. Terrific series of great photographs!

    I grew up in central Florida and am guilty of taking these expert fishers for granted. Yesterday, I counted eight Anhinga nests in our local park. Hard to believe the chicks are all white.

    Orlando Wetlands Park is a wonderful paradise to roam around!

    1. I know what you mean about taking them for granted. They were everywhere, and I wish I had taken many more shots of them.
      And I so agree…I could spend A LOT of time at Orland Wetlands Park and never get bored!

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