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

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