Family Darters (Anhingidae)

Near Threatened

Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)


French: Anhinga roux German: Orient-Schlangenhalsvogel Spanish: Anhinga asiática
Other common names: Darter (when lumped with A. rufa and A. novaehollandiae)

Anhinga melanogaster


, 1769,

Sri Lanka and Java


Often considered conspecific with A. rufa and A. novaehollandiae. Less sexually dimorphic in plumage than either of these species and differs in plumage features#R; these differences include having more a conspicuous white line around the eye; the head and hind-neck are speckled dusky, straw and fawn; the pale cheek stripe is narrower and extends further, halfway down the neck; male throat is extensively white spotted black; male neck is midbrown spotted dusky, not black or rufous; dorsal shaft streaks are bright whitish grey, brighter than in the other two species. Monotypic.


Pakistan (mainly Indus Valley), India and Sri Lanka E to mainland SE Asia, Greater Sundas, Philippines, Sulawesi and W Lesser Sundas (Sumbawa).

Descriptive notes

85–97 cm; 1058–1815 g; wingspan 114–128 cm; bill 71–87 mm. Scapulars elongated and lanceolate; bare part colours variable. Juvenile similar to female... read more


Usually silent, except in vicinity of nest. Main call is a lengthy, accelerating and swelling... read more


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

Food and feeding

Mainly fish; prey species vary with locality. Also takes amphibians, water snakes, terrapins and aquatic invertebrates, including insects,... 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. Currently considered Near Threatened, with a global population of 30,000 individuals. Generally uncommon and declining throughout Asia, due to... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2020). Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster). 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 21 January 2020).