E Pluribus Unum Anhinga

During his travels through Florida in 1894, naturalist Bradford Torrey described the beautiful Anhinga in his book A Florida Sketch-book:

Anhinga
Anhinga with wings spread, on Spatterdock hammock, Spanish moss background, Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 4, 2017. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Download and use this image legally at Dreamstime.com

“A good many of my jaunts took me past the gallinule swamp before mentioned, and almost always I stopped and went near. It was worth while to hear the poultry cries of the gallinules if nothing more; and often several of the birds would be seen swimming about among the big white lilies and the green tussocks. Once I discovered one of them sitting upright on a stake,—a precarious seat, off which he soon tumbled awkwardly into the water.

“At another time, on the same stake, sat some dark, strange-looking object. The opera-glass showed it at once to be a large bird sitting with its back toward me, and holding its wings uplifted in the familiar heraldic, e-pluribus-unum attitude of our American spread-eagle; but even then it was some seconds before I recognized it as an anhinga,—water turkey,—though it was a male in full nuptial garb. I drew nearer and nearer, and meanwhile it turned squarely about,—a slow and ticklish operation,—so that its back was presented to the sun; as if it had dried one side of its wings and tail,—for the latter, too, was fully spread,—and now would dry the other. There for some time it sat preening its feathers, with monstrous twistings and untwistings of its snaky neck.”

Bradford Torrey. A Florida Sketch-Book, 1895. Chapter 10.


iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/32710752

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