Clicky

Darter in tree, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Photographed as it was drying its wings in a tree,  African darters (Anhinga rufa) are a common sight in the Okavango Delta region.

Widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa and not considered to be endangered or threatened,  the darter is often referred to as the snakebird due to the manner in which it swims with only its head and neck above the water surface.    This bird can often be seen as pictured here,  in a tree or on a rock drying its wings out.    This behaviour is necessary because unlike many other waterbirds,  the darter's feathers do not contain oil and are not therefore waterproof.   This lack of waterproofing means that the bird is less buoyant enabling it to dive more effectively for fish,  however it has the disadvantage that its feathers can become waterlogged hindering its ability to fly and also leading to a loss of body temperature.

African Darter drying its wings, Okavango Delta, Botswana
African Darter drying its wings, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Suggested further reading:    Birdlife International

*** update 25.11.14.  Further Botswana images are now online.   ~KD. ***