William Bartram’s Snake Bird

A passage describing the Anhinga from the nature journals of William Bartram, published in 1791:

Anhinga “snake bird”; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 7, 2017. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at Dreamstime.com.

“HERE is in this river and in the waters all over Florida, a very curious and handsome bird, the people call them Snake Birds. I think I have seen paintings of them on the Chinese screens and other India pictures: they seem to be a species of cormorant or loon (Colymbus cauda elongata) but far more beautiful and delicately formed than any other species that I have ever seen. The head and neck of this bird are extremely small and slender, the latter very long indeed, almost out of all proportion, the bill long, strait and slender, tapering from its ball to a sharp point, all the upper side, the abdomen and thighs, are as black and glossy as a raven’s, covered with feathers so firm and elastic, that they in some degree resemble fish-scales, the breast and upper part of the belly are covered with feathers of a cream colour, the tail is very long, of a deep black, and tipped with a silvery white, and when spread, represent an unfurled fan.”   – Travels Part II, Chapter V


William Bartram was a botantist, artist, and nature writer that explored the southeastern United States around the time of the American Revolution (1773-1776). He was a scientist, creationist and Christian that gave glory to the Author for all the wonderful works he observed and documented in his book, Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. 

iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36774453

Published by William Wise

Hi, I’m conservation photographer and nature writer William Wise. Nature journaling and wildlife photography has been a favorite pastime since the ‘90s. I graduated from University of Georgia Warnell Forestry School's wildlife program in 1996. I'm currently an animal shelter manager/photographer and reside in Athens, Georgia, USA with my wife and two teenage daughters. My website www.williamwisephoto.com is a wildlife and birding photo website documenting the beauty, design and wonder of creation. I have a deep love of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. I became a devoted Christian in 1993 under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. The theme of my blogging comes from The Message version of Psalms 104 -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."

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