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Darter

Darters (also called snake birds) are water birds with very long necks and long, straight beaks. They often swim with only the neck above water, and are specialist fish-eaters.

Depending on the authority, there are either two or four closely-related species sharing very similar behavior and habitat in the darter family (Anhingidae). The Anhinga of the Americas (Anhinga anhinga) is clearly a good species. However, the Indian, African, and Australian darters can be regarded as either three very similar species, or a single species A. melanogaster with three widely separated subspecies, (A. m. melanogaster, A. m. rufa and A. m. novaehollandiae).

The Anhinga is native to the Americas. The Indian Darter is prevalent eastwards from the Indian sub-continent to Indonesia, and differs in appearance from the African and American darters mainly by its white lateral neck stripe.

The African Darter can be found in tropical sub-Saharan Africa. It differs in appearance from Indian and American Darter primarily by its thin white lateral neck stripe against a rufous background color.

Species

  • Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga
  • Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster
  • African Darter, Anhinga rufa
  • Australian Darter, Anhinga novaehollandiae

There is also an extinct species from Mauritius known only from bones, the Mauritian Darter, Anhinga nanus.

Darter


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