Anhinga Chicks – feeding sequence

Hungry chicks goin in_8264-wps


Almost exactly one month after the images displayed on my previous post of both the male and female Anhinga nest sitting, I arrived back at the rookery to find happy Anhinga families with rapidly growing young. Most nests contained two or three chicks. As with all new parents, the Anhings were very busy keeping up with the voracious appetites of their downy nestlings. Upon hatching anhinga chicks are naked and helpless but quickly grow a soft white covering of down. Here you can see the covering of down and the prominent pin feathers on the wings.  They are initially fed by their parents dripping fluid and regurgitated material from partially digested fish down their throats. It does not take long for the chicks to figure out where the food comes from and soon are seen shoving their heads down their parents’ beaks to acquire food.  You can see how big they already are less than a month old (I am not sure how long after my last visit they did hatch).  The chicks can fledge at about a month and a half in age,  but stay with their parents for several more weeks before becoming truly independent. Please refer to an earlier post HERE for more on Anhingas and some Audubon thoughts.

Hungry Anhinga Chicks nip at each other

These little fellows nip at each other lightly as they await Mom to be ready to feed them. She has to digest first.

Anhinga Chick await feeding from Mom

The chicks anxiously ready themselves for a dive into Mom’s throat. Their head movements are tremulous as they sway their necks and heads back and forth in front of Mom.

Hungry chicks goin in_8263-wps

Ok going in!

Anhinga Chicks Feeding from Mom

One chick seemed a bit left out throughout this feeding in favor of its more aggressive siblings.

Anhinga Chick dives in Mom's throat to feed

View of anhinga chick head inside Mom's throat

A view of how deep they really do go. The parents seem happy to get the chick out of its gullet by the end of the process and often take to a branch out of reach.


~ by Judy on March 7, 2015.

17 Responses to “Anhinga Chicks – feeding sequence”

  1. Great story and photo’s, I have never been able to capture any kind of bird feeding their offspring. I have found nest of a Blue Heron but it was a 100 ft. in a tree. Great capture’s.

    • I am very fortunate being only about 45 minute drive from an active rookery. Unlike many rookeries, visitors have close access to the activity. The birds while wild are somewhat accustomed to the presence of humans with cyclopean black eyes.

  2. once again really great photographs!!!

    • I always appreciate your visit and comments on my photos! Thank you. I don’t think a view of anhingas in their nest is all that accessible to most so its fun to show.

  3. Wow!

    • 🙂 Thanks!! Anhinga chicks are unusual looking aren’t they? When I first came to the rookery I was so captivated by the Great Blue herons and their little rock star nestlings that I ignored the funny plucked chicken looking offspring of the anhinga. Nor did I fully appreciate the elegance of the adults. I have certainly changed on that and maybe its because I have a better lens and have a better chance to capture the quick movements of this species.

  4. Judy beautiful as ever, I love your bird captures. These are so unique.

    • I am so glad you checked in for the view! I was surprised when I first saw anhinga chicks as I am not sure what I thought they’d look like. Just not pale, writhing little pink skinheads like they are. Ugly ducklings for sure as they mature into one of the handsomest of species.

      The first time I saw a chick being fed, it was an older chick looking mature much like an adult. There was a lot of flapping and shoving going on and I thought they were killing each other. I soon learned how they feed.

  5. Wow! Those are absolutely outstanding! I have never seen anhinga chicks up close like that. Well done.

    • Oh, thanks for looking!! I remember when I thought that anhingas only hung out on marine pilings and nautical markers. I was initially surprised to find they live and nest inland albeit in wetland areas. The are truly fun to watch moving around and being themselves and I have surely grown to appreciate their interesting looks.

  6. I know we have some nesting at the far back edge of the swamp but no way to get in a position to view them. Even with a spotting scope they are too far.

    • Perhaps there might be a place where birds nest in your area with better access. I haven’t found nests close by boat yet but I have taken pictures of birds among mangroves lining waterways at times. I understand how frustrating it can be to see nests off in the distance and not be able to get close. I am so lucky to have something so close.

  7. I can’t help it. When I look at anhingas, I feel like I’m in a contemporary art museum, looking at Jackson Pollock or someone and muttering, “Hmmm… very interesting…”

    I have come to appreciate them, but they aren’t the most attractive water birds, and those babies — well! But it’s wonderful to be able to have a series like this that shows them, as you say, being themselves. It’s amazing to me how different species adapt different behaviors, and raise their young so differently. What a thrill it must have been for you to capture all this. Your photos are a terrific aid to understanding.

    • Yeah, that is pretty much my husband’s reaction to my photographic record of these little guys….Hmmm…interesting… ‘very’ though? 😦

      I like the idea that showing what I have access to can be informative!!

  8. Wonderful! I loved sitting and watching these sweethearts for hours… It always amazed me how far into the mouth the babies go!

    • So truly, they are terribly entertaining to hang out and observe! First time I saw the feeding was with older chicks and I didn’t get it at first…thought they were killing each other!!

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