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Australasian Darter

Anhinga novaehollandiae

Quick facts

Size: Averages 91 cm, including long bill, neck and tail, 1.05–1.8 kg.


Range and lifestyle: Widespread in Australia, preferring larger lakes, lagoons, rivers, estuaries and sheltered marine waters with fringing vegetation or other places to perch.


Food: Large fish, amphibians, terrapins (turtles) and water snakes.

Breeding: They breed in trees, choosing firm spots in forks, crevices or larger branches. Clutch size 2-6 eggs, usually 4.

  • ​​​Darters feed by perching on tree branches, posts and rocks low over the surface of the water, from where they can slither quickly into the water to spear their prey.

  • Swallowing larger prey takes them some time.

  • Because they need to spread their wings to dry, they often perch for long periods.

  • Their other name of ‘Snake-bird’ arises from their habit of floating very low in the water, body submerged with only their snake-like head and neck showing above the surface.

  • They usually nest in mixed colonies with cormorants, ibises and/or egrets and herons.


Text © Detlef Davies 2022 CC BY-NC-SA

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