Two-headed monster bird! Or, a couple of anhinga fledglings

July 23, 2014, 1 p.m.
Anhinga fledglings

Two fledglings sunbathe on a perch

The anhinga can be found around fresh water in the southeastern United States, Central America and South America. This species is a skilled swimmer, and it’s watery ways is why it is often called the water turkey and snake bird. The anhinga stalks and catches fish while swimming underwater, and it’s ability to do so is aided by the fact that its feathers are not water resistant and its bones are relatively dense. The reduced buoyancy helps it to swim, but also means it sits quite low in the water, often with only it’s neck and head above the water so that it looks more like a swimming snake than a bird. Hence, snake bird. Also, because its feathers need to be dried out, it will often perch to sunbathe, spreading its wings and its long, broad, turkey-like tail. Hence, water turkey. No matter what you choose to call it, this bird has a fascinating build, as these fledglings demonstrate, that is perfectly adapted to the niche it fills in freshwater ecosystems.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Google+, and Facebook.