As you know, birds continually work at getting food. But, as we all know, one should not bite off more than we can chew. Things could turn out very badly. In this case, I’ll let you know up front that this bird did not suffer more than a bit of exhaustion for his error in judgment. The bird is an American Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga.) The photo was taken in Florida earlier this year at Viera Wetlands near Melbourne. Viera Wetlands/Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands is a water treatment facility. There are a series of ponds and a set of dirt impoundment roads. And lots of birds! One day when I was there, I noticed this anhinga on the shore of a pond. He seemed to be doing something, so I stopped. He obviously did not know about the “no fishing” rule. I watched for about 15 minutes as he tried to swallow the fish to no avail. After exhausting himself, he left the fish on shore and swam away (perhaps too tired to fly.) The Anhinga is very similar in appearance to the native cormorant. Both dive for fish, have no oil on their feathers (helps diving), and characteristically spread their wing to dry them. The Anhinga has a pointed bill while the cormorant has a hooked bill. Cormorants also tend to have a yellow/orange color near their bill. There are also difference in shape (neck, wing, tail) and swimming patterns (anhingas swim with their body underwater.) It’s swimming pattern has given it the nickname of “snake bird’ since the neck is the only thing exposed when swimming and the head and neck look like a swimming snake.

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