Also called water turkey, snake bird and snake darter, the anhinga is one of the Everglades most common and unusual birds.
When swimming, only its snaky-looking long neck and head show above water. The rest of the body stays submerged.
To feed, an anhinga dives underwater for considerable periods to spear fish with its long sharp beak. If successful, back on the surface the anhinga will flip the fish into the air, catch it head first and swallow it.
If the bird’s eyes are too big for its stomach—and its neck too small for the fish it tries to swallow—the results are a fatal last meal.
Besides its distinctive appearance, the anhinqa is famous for its practice of sitting on tree branches with wings extended as if in a state of alarm.
It was once believed the anhinga did this to dry its feathers so they would not become waterlogged. It is now believed they also assume this pose to help regulate their body temperature.
The Anhinga Trail at Homestead and the canal beside the visitor center at Shark Valley are two places in Everglades National Park where anhinga are almost always found.