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4

Australasian Darter

(Anhinga novaehollandiae)
Alternate name(s): "Snake-necked Darter", "Diver*", "Snake-bird", "Shag*"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "novaehollandiae": "koorowera", "marbangye"; "mimal" (WA)

Size: 85-90 cm; wing span 1.2 m
Weight: 1.05-1.35 kg
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Australasian Darter at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Australasian Darter
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2011]

Frontal view of a "decorated" male Australasian Darter that has just emerged from a waterhole
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2010]

Lateral view of a male Australasian Darter checking out the surroundings
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, February 2008]

Dorsal view of a male Australasian Darter
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2011]

Male Australasian Darter spreading its wings...
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, February 2008]

... for drying
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, February 2008]

Different view of a male Australasian Darter drying its plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2010]

Dorsal view of a male Australasian Darter drying its plumage (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Robina, Gold Coast, QLD, May 2015]

This view of a male Australasian Darter shows clearly its completely webbed feet (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, September 2014]

Male Australasian Darter preening
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, August 2014]

Male Australasian Darter swimming after a dive
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2010]

Lateral profile of a "rocket" - male Australasian Darter in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2010]

Male Australasian Darter in flight, seen from underneath
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2010]

This Australasian Darter looks like a young male
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2011]

FEMALE

Close-up near-frontal view of a female Australasian Darter drying its plumage
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, September 2016]

Close-up lateral view of a female Australasian Darter (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Kingaroy, QLD, October 2015]

Lateral view of a female Australasian Darter; note the pronounced kink of the neck
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2013]

The same female Australasian Darter as shown above, now on the point of take-off
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2013]

Lateral view of a female Australasian Darter (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Female Australasian Darter swimming in Narrabri Creek
[Narrabri, NSW, September 2007]

Female Australasian Darter drying its plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Female Australasian Darter in flight, seen from underneath
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Lateral view of a female Australasian Darter in flight; note the pronounced kink of the neck
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2012]

Female Australasian Darter approaching a dead treetop, showing clearly the webbed feet
[Moree, NSW, April 2014]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Immature Australasian Darter in flight; note the all cream-coloured neck distinguishing it from a female bird
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2011]

Immature Australasian Darter preparing for touchdown
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

The incomplete plumage on this Australasian Darter's wings indicates that it is a juvenile drying its feathers (photo courtesy of S. Kirkby)

This also looks like a juvenile Australasian Darter drying its feathers (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Brisbane River, Brisbane, QLD, June 2006]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jan - Dec Eggs: 2 - 6 Incubation period: ca. 28 days Fledging age: ca. 50 days

Darters have erratic breeding habits. Given the right conditions, they can in principle breed any time of year, with a preference for the timeframe Aug - Dec in the southern part of the continent and Feb - Apr in the tropical North. Especially inland the breeding cycle will adapt to local water levels.

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, leaves Height above ground: 3 - 20 m(?)

Female Australasian Darter on its nest in a dead tree standing in water (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Paradise Dam, Burnett River, near Gayndah, QLD, April 2016]

Male Australasian Darter on its nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

Frontal view of the female Australasian Darter on the same nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

Lateral view of the female Australasian Darter on the same nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

"Change of the guard" at an Australasian Darters' nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

Pop Australasian Darter giving a view of at least two chicks; while the chicks are young and vulnerable one parent will always stay in the nest to protect them against heat/sunlight and predators (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, March 2015]

Clear view of a light-grey Australasian Darter against dad's dark plumage (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, March 2015]

Here dad with the two now much bigger chicks (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, March 2015]

Example of Australasian Darters nesting in a loose colony with other species, in this case Little Pied Cormorants (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 58 x 37 mm Colour: Creamy, with chalky coating Shape: Long elliptical

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial? Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Solitary

Hunting under water, Australasian Darters are one of the bird species that can regularly be seen drying their plumage sitting on a perch in bright sunlight.

Dorsal view of a male Australasian Darter drying its plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2013]

When excited, e.g. when wary of a human observer, male Australasian Darters will display their hackles.

Near-dorsal view of a male Australasian Darter issuing a warning when disturbed while drying its plumage; this is the bird whose faint clicking calls were recorded on 3 December 2015
[Mudgee, NSW, December 2015]

Australasian Darters spike their prey, rather than grabbing it like herons or egrets. They then thrust the prey upward and maneuvre it into the slender bill by turning it.

Female Australasian Darter with its prey
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

This immature Australasian Darter was found by us on a rockface by the sea
[Lee Point, Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Additional information

On a separate page we have lined up a series of shots of a Australasian Darter turning around and swallowing a fish spiked on its bill.

Food, Diet

Australasian Darters feed exclusively on fish (see photo above and this page).

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

darter_20161218_2.mp3 (NW NSW) Territorial call (male; distant) © MD
darter_20151203.mp3 (W NSW) Warning calls (male; soft) © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.