Apr 16, 2011

Mystery of the bird mistook for a fish

This is one of two birds:
a cormorant or anhinga.

Does this photo contain a hidden clue in plain sight?

Cormorants are easily confused with its freshwater cousin – the anhinga (also known as the snake bird) – which hangs out in the Everglades.

While ospreys swoosh down from up high to grab fish with its talons, or a pelican plunge face first with its beak and expanded throat pouch, cormorants and anhingas take the audacious approach of actually swimming down under the water surface, turning feathers into fins, to find their fish. The anhinga is a much more graceful swimmer than a flyer for sure although seems also poorly adapted for its chore:

Afterwards they spread their wings out in the sun on whichever perch they can find.
(A towel instead would be so much easier!)


The clue in the case of photo could lie in the background.

It’s the tail-water structure on the Golden Gate Canal, downstream which leads into Naples Bay. This time of year the gates are closed to conserve what freshwater we still have left. That means the bird is swimming in brackish water side of the structure.


I’m no birder, but given that clue:

My guess is cormorant.

1 comment:

Janie said...

Interesting that these birds swim to catch their dinner! It's really amazing how different critters adapt and find unique ways to survive.