I took this photo several months ago at the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills. The Darter is an interesting bird, widespread over much of Australia without being common anywhere. It is occasionally found in Tasmania and New Zealand. It is also present in Africa, southern Asia and Papua New Guinea.
Another common name for the Darter is Snake Bird. If one approaches one sitting on a log or branch it will writhe its neck in a snake like manner. Like cormorants, the Darter needs to regularly leave the water and sit on a log, rock, branch or navigation piles in order to dry its wings. The one in the photograph above was sitting on a log on the side of the path, only two metres from me. Being a captive bird it was very used to having people quite close.
The Darter can be found in or along rivers, creeks, lakes, swamps, lagoons, reservoirs and estuaries but rarely in open sea. It can be found in both salt and fresh water. In my home district it is found right along the River Murray and although widespread it is present in only small numbers, usually one or two.
For more information:
- Birds in Backyards - facts about the Darter.
- Australia Zoo – look for the down loadable PDF file on this species.