The Anhinga is a really cool bird for many reasons. For one thing, his red eyes and turquoise ‘eye shadow’ really stand out during breeding season.
For another, the stately Anhinga is often seen standing in a tree or other convenient ‘drying rack’ with its wings outstretched, drying off, a really unusual-looking behavior. They engage in this behavior because their feathers are less water-resistant than bird feathers typically are. (http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/birds/waterbirds/anhinga/)It is a common misconception that the Anhinga’s feathers lack waterproofing oils, but it is really a function of the ‘micro-structure’ of their feathers that helps them submerge, and then protects their body temperature as they engage in this ‘drying out’ and warming up behavior when out of the water. See more about this in The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, 2013. p. 165-66.
Lots of people refer to the Anhinga as the ‘Snake Bird‘, or Water Turkey, because he actually submerges and swims around under the water to catch his prey.
Personally, I much prefer the name ‘Anhinga‘, a name which is said to derive from a word in the Tupi language of Brazil.
which she occasionally shows off to her best advantage.Both female and male Anhingas are pretty clumsy, though, when taking off and landing, as their clunky webbed feet are not ideally designed for precise, graceful movements on narrow branches.Sometimes people who are unfamiliar with this bird are understandably confused when they ask what its name is and someone says: “It’s an Anhinga.” They often try to repeat the name, leaving out the first ‘an’ or adding an extra one.This bird can often appear quite elegant, but sometimes, the Anhinga just likes to show off his acrobatic skills by doing semi-flips on a tall tree branch!