When we opened the blinds on the back windows this morning, we squinted into the morning sun and were greeted with this sight:
Taking pictures through a screen into the sun isn't really optimal, but you can still get the idea. This female anhinga was perched in our very young cypress tree, bending it halfway to the ground as she dried her wings.
Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga) are waterbirds common in Central Florida. They resemble cormorants, but in warmer months, cormorants are nearly always found on salt water rather than freshwater. Anhingas are more common on freshwater all year.
Anhingas swim with almost their entire body submerged, ducking entirely below the surface to swim for prey. When they surface and wish to fly, they must emerge onto dry land and dry their wings. Unlike ducks, they do not have oils on their wings to make the feathers waterproof. This makes it easier to dive but harder to fly in a hurry. So they are often found perched along the edge of waterways, wings spread to the sun.
With a patch of tall strong pine trees only ten yards to the right, this cypress seems like an odd choice for this anhinga. The landing must have been amusing, as the tree bent closer and closer to the earth, and the bird struggled for balance. Still, she managed it, and although this great blue heron that wandered over almost seems to be saying, "What are you doing up there?", we're glad to have anhingas anywhere they want to be in My Florida Backyard.