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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 11, 2021

19 African Darter Facts You’ll Never Forget

African Darter Fact File

There are a total of 215 species of darters and the African darter (Anhinga rufa) is a member of this family. They are sedentary birds and do not migrate. The African darter (Anhinga rufa) is endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa, south-central Turkey, and Iraq. African darters (Anhinga rufa) are medium to large-sized birds and are closely related to the Oriental, American darter, and Australian darter species.

The African darter (Anhinga rufa) is largely silent as they do not singe however, they do have a loud and harsh croak. An African darter (Anhinga rufa) nests with other birds and builds a nest in trees where this bird lays three to six eggs. They are carnivorous waterbirds and mainly feed on fishes. They usually swim with only their neck above the water in order to catch fishes almost appearing similar to a snake. This movement is why the African darter (Anhinga rufa) is called a snakebird.  The feathers of the African darter are not waterproof. They need to spread their long wings out and dry them immediately to dry their feathers out.

For more relatable content, check out greater flamingo facts and belted kingfisher facts.

African Darter Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African darter?

The African darter is a type of bird that belongs to the class Animalia and order Suliformes.

What class of animal does an African darter belong to?

An African darter (Anhinga rufa) is a type of bird that belongs to class Actinopterygii, family Anhingidae, and genus Anhinga.

How many African darters are there in the world?

The exact population of African darters in the world is not known. The domestic chicken is the most common bird in the world with a population of 23.7 billion.  

Where does an African darter live?

An African darter bird lives in freshwater regions in tropical Sub-Saharan Africa, south-central Turkey, and Iraq. They are seldom spotted in other regions of the world. Anhinga rufa birds are predominantly seen near water bodies since they feed on fish.

What is an African darter's habitat?

An African darter's habitat constitutes tropical areas as well as brackish and freshwater fringed with vegetation near mangroves. They are sedentary birds and don't migrate unless in extreme cases, especially during rainfall. They build their nest in trees and their nests are usually built surrounding other birds of their own kind.  

Who do African darters live with?

African darters are monogamous and tend to usually be seen in groups of 100. An African darter nests and roosts with other species such as egrets, herons, and cormorants. They coexist with other species in the wild.

How long does an African darter live?

African darters are a type a water bird that lives up to 16 years. Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, is the oldest bird which lived for 70 years.

How do they reproduce?

African darters are monogamous birds with a pointed bill. Males and females have courtship displays including wing waving, sky pointing, twig grasping, bowing, and wing lifting during the breeding season. African darters reach sexual maturity at the age of two years. The male and female mate in the nesting site. This species is extremely territorial and gather in flocks during the breeding season. They build their nest in mixed colonies and in trees made of sticks or reeds. Females lay three to six eggs per clutch and incubation lasts from 25-30 days during breeding. Both parents are equally involved in raising the young. The chicks fledge after five weeks and their parents continue to feed them for two more weeks. An African darter nests and roosts with other species such as egrets, herons, and cormorants.

What is their conservation status?

African darter birds are classified as a Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

African Darter Fun Facts

What do African darters look like?

The African darter bird is a bird with a long neck in Africa. African darters have a glossy black overall plumage with white streaking. These long-necked birds have feathers covering their whole body. The feathers of the African darter do not contain oil, meaning they have to dry their wings out once they come out of water bodies. The male has a crown on their back and their neck is black and chestnut in color. They have a long black tail fanned when resting. Their legs and webbed feet are brown. They have a small and slender cormorant-like face eyes are golden. They also have a long sharp-pointed bill. and their chin and throat are whitish. Anhinga rufa males tend to have a larger bill compared to females. They are often seen with their bodies submerged underwater trying to catch fish

An African darter is a medium to large-sized bird that is popularly referred to as snakebird.

How cute are they?

A Anhinga rufa (African darter) is not thought of as cute by its description. However, they are exotic beings and they are often seen with their bodies submerged low in the water. Males are relatively darker in description and appearance compared to females.

How do they communicate?

African darters are effective communicators. These water birds stay silent and they communicate most when they are near their nesting sites. These water birds have elaborate courtship displays and are territorial beings.

How big is an African darter?

The average African darter bird's length is 31.5-39.4 in (80-100 cm), which is 50 times bigger than the smallest bird in the world, the bee hummingbird measuring at 2.2-2.4 in (5.5-6.1 cm).

How fast can an African darter fly?

An Anhinga rufa (African darter) or snakebird flies at relatively moderate heights. This snakebird spreads its tail feathers when in flight and its neck is held forwards. They have short glides combined with timely wing beats. The fastest bird in the world is a peregrine that travels at flight speeds of 200 mph (321.9 kph). When swimming underwater, you see their head first and then their long neck. This fish swims in order to escape predators.

How much does an African darter weigh?

An African darter weighs 2.3-3 lb (1050-1350 g). The heaviest bird in the world is an ostrich which is close to 200 lb (90.7 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female birds are not addressed differently. The male has a crown on their back and their neck is black and chestnut in color. Females have different colored feathers. They also differ in reproductive functions.

What would you call a baby African darter?

A baby African darter is referred to as a nestling, and the feathers of an African darter baby develop over time. Juvenile birds are dependent on their parents in the initial few weeks of their life. Adult African darters nest and roost with other species such as egrets, herons, and cormorants.

What do they eat?

These birds are carnivorous birds and feed predominantly on small fish. They immerse themselves in freshwater and stick their head out first and then their neck from the water in order to catch small fish. Predators of these birds include crocodiles, eagles, crows, and ravens. Fish is what they love best and they search for their fish in freshwater bodies.

Are they dangerous?

No, these birds are not dangerous. They are wild birds of Africa and other similar regions, meaning they do not enjoy the company of people and survive best in their natural habitat. If you cannot physically visit this species.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these are innately wild birds and they are not fit to be adopted. They survive best in their natural habitats where this bird can swim and fetch its own food. These birds are seen predominantly in Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, south-central Turkey, and Iraq.  They are distinguished for their snake-like appearance when looking for prey. If you wish to adopt birds as pets, you could consider other popular ones like parrots and lovebirds.

Did you know...

The main relation between a snake and a bird is their food relation. A snake is largely carnivorous and feeds on birds. However certain birds too are carnivores and feed on non-venomous snakes. Snakes also feed on bird eggs.

A waterbird is a bird that resides close to water habitats and around freshwater ecosystems. They predominantly stay around water in order to find appropriate prey, mainly fishes.

Most small birds need to drink two times a day in order to survive. Birds do not have any sweat glands, meaning they require relatively less water. Birds lose a lot of water through respiration.  

Which bird has a long neck in India?

India is home to various animals, including the great Indian bustard known for its long neck and long legs. They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. The largest number of these birds is seen in Rajasthan which is in the west of India. Habitat loss and illegal activities have made these birds under threat.

How many eggs does an African darter lay?

African darter lay six eggs per clutch. They predominantly feed on fish and feed fish to the juveniles as well until they are ready to hunt themselves. Adults find food when their swim underwater and only their heads are seen above. Their head resembles a snake. Their breeding patterns are similar to other birds. However, they build nests in colonies that are made using trees, sticks, and reeds. They may breed multiple times throughout their life. The young are born without feathers and as they grow, they develop feathers which are brown to black in color. The brown color is predominantly seen in females, and males are usually black.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our grey-cheeked parakeet facts and stilt owl facts page.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable African darter coloring pages.

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