Family Darters (Anhingidae)

Least Concern

Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae)


French: Anhinga d’Australie German: Austral-Schlangenhalsvogel Spanish: Anhinga australiana
Other common names: Australian Darter

Plotus Novae-Hollandiae


, 1847,

rivers of the whole of the southern coast of Australia = New South Wales


Often considered conspecific with A. rufa and A. melanogaster, but (as indicated in recent morphological study#R) has smallest size (bill 74.9 vs 80 in rufa and 82.8 in melanogaster; at least 1), although tarsus longer (48 vs 44.8 and 43.3, respectively; at least 1) (2); much broader and shorter white facial stripe, with distinct oval white submoustachial patch (3); much greater sexual dimorphism, female with white belly (3); mid-yellow vs rich yellow (melanogaster) gular area on breeding male (1). Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. n. papua Rand, 1938 – lowland New Guinea and satellite islands.
  • A. n. novaehollandiae (Gould, 1847) – Australia (except arid interior); possibly this race on Timor.
  • Descriptive notes

    85–97 cm; 1058–1815 g; wingspan 116–128 cm; bill 71–87 mm. Scapulars elongated and lanceolate; bare part colours variable. Juvenile similar to female, but white and black... read more


    Rather silent. Alarm call is a metallic clicking. Also has a brassy clanging call.


    Mainly still, shallow inland waters, such as freshwater or alkaline lakes, slow flowing rivers,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly fish, including Plotosidae (Australia); prey species vary with locality. Also takes amphibians, water snakes, terrapins and aquatic... read more


    Seasonal in some areas, at any time of year in others. Usually colonial, often with cormorants or Ciconiiformes. Nest is platform of sticks... read more


    Generally sedentary, with sporadic movements usually related to drought conditions.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Wetlands International estimate the population to be within the range of 10,000–100,000 birds. Widespread and common throughout much... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 September 2019).