Darter (species: Anhinga melanogaster) in Sydney Marine Life (Gaia Guide)
Anhinga melanogaster

©Gopal Venkatesan: Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)

©Ian Sanderson: Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)

©Arthur Chapman: Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Pelecaniformes
Family Anhingidae
Genus Anhinga
Species Anhinga melanogaster
Status near threatened



Distinguishing features

The adult plumage above is black and the wing coverts and tertials having silvery streaks along the shaft. The crown and neck are brown shading to black towards the back of the neck. The underparts are blackish brown. A pale line over the eye and throat and a line running along the sides of the neck gives it a striped appearance.

The iris is white with a yellow ring around it. The tip of the upper mandible is dark while the base is pale brown bill while the lower mandible is yellowish. The legs and webbing on the foot are yellow in immatures and dark grey in older birds.

The sexes are not easily distinguishable but males tend to have black speckles that coalesce on the white throat. Adult females have a shorter bill and tend to have the black at the base of neck and chest separated from the hind neck by a wide buff band that ends at the shoulder. This pattern however is also found in immatures whose neck is lighter and lack the long pointed scapulars. (Wikipedia)


  • Up to 95 cm (Length of specimen)


  • Wingspan data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

It is found mainly in freshwater lakes and streams. (Wikipedia)


The structure of the neck is as in other species of darter with strongly developed muscles about a kink in the neck at the 8th and 9th vertebrae that allows it to be flexed and darted forward with rapid force to stab fish underwater. The edges of the commisures of the mandible tips have minute inward pointing serrations that hold impaled fish. (Wikipedia)

Web resources