Afrikaans name: Slanghalsvoël
African Darter sunning itself
The African Darter is sometimes given the unfortunate sounding name of Snake Bird. Presumably this is a reference to its long neck.
This bird is always found in or near water. It will either be swimming, with just its neck showing, diving underneath the water in search of food or sitting on a stump.
The African Darter uses its sharp bill to spear fish under water. It will then bring it to the surface and manoeuvre it into its bill, head first, and swallow it.
The pair build a nest out of sticks in a tree often in association with herons, egrets and spoonbills. Up to 6 eggs are laid.
Surprisingly these birds do not have water proof plumage which is why they are often seen drying or sunning themselves.
Males are darker than females.
References and further readingA First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 190
Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 52
Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 2
Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Year Published: - Page: 17
Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 7
Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 24
Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 409
Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 43
Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 43
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 56
Wild Issue 37 - Author: - Year Published: 2016 - Page: 68