The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

African Darter

Afrikaans name: Slanghalsvoël

African Darter sunning itself at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

African Darter sunning itself

Photo © Steven Herbert

Anhinga rufa

The African Darter is sometimes given the unfortunate sounding name of Snake Bird. Presumably this is a reference to its long neck.

This bird is always found in or near water. It will either be swimming, with just its neck showing, diving underneath the water in search of food or sitting on a stump.

The African Darter uses its sharp bill to spear fish under water. It will then bring it to the surface and manoeuvre it into its bill, head first, and swallow it.

The pair build a nest out of sticks in a tree often in association with herons, egrets and spoonbills. Up to 6 eggs are laid.

African Darter sunning itself at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Surprisingly these birds do not have water proof plumage which is why they are often seen drying or sunning themselves.

Males are darker than females.

References and further reading

Wildlife of the Cape Peninsula - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2001 - Page: 33

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 28

Wild Issue 37 - Author: - Published: 2016 - Page: 68

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 29

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 19

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 128

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 8

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 56

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 52

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 43

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 43

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 29

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 25

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 19

Roberts Bird Guide - Author: Hugh Chittenden - Published: 2007 - Page: 172

Questions and Answers - Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Published: 1990 - Page: 20

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 64

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 64

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 409

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 50

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 56

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 24

Everyones Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Published: 1987 - Page: 40

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Published: 2005 - Page: 3

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 7

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 13

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 29

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Published: 0 - Page: 17

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Published: 1992 - Page: 2

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 12

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 37

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 52

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 190

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 190

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 35

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