Stop me if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m completely fascinated by the fact that… Anhingas don’t have nostrils!
They do not have external nares (nostrils) and breathe solely through their epiglottis.
I photographed this fine fellow yesterday morning at the Indian RiverSide Park pond.
In order to dive and search for underwater prey, including fish and amphibians, the anhinga does not have waterproof feathers, (unlike ducks, which coat their feathers with oil from their uropygial gland). Because the anhinga is thus barely buoyant, it can stay below the surface more easily and for longer periods of time.
If it attempts to fly while its wings are wet, the anhinga has difficulty, flapping vigorously while “running” on the water. As do cormorants when drying their feathers, the anhinga will stand with wings spread and feathers fanned open in a semicircular shape, resembling a male meleagrine, which led to the anhinga being referred to colloquially as the “water turkey” or “swamp turkey.”
I used to think Anhingas were ugly, or at least funny looking. I’m beginning to think they are beautiful, actually, in their own strange way.