The Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae), also known as the Australian Darter has a long slender neck. Inhabiting freshwater wetland regions and sometimes seen at inland saltwater habitats, the darter will swim with bodies submerged and only the sinuous neck held above the water, that lends to its other common name of Snakebird.

A slim bird, with a sharp pointed bill and long rounded tai, the male of the species has dark brownish to black plumage, glossy black upper wings, streaked, spotted white, silver-grey and brown, with a white or pale brown streak down the side of its head and neck. The females and immature birds are grey-brown above, pale grey to white underparts, with a white neck stripe that is less distinct in young birds. They build nests in trees that are often standing in or overhanging water.

These darters forage by diving to water to depths of about 60 centimetres, impaling fish with its spear-like beak. Smaller fish will be swallowed whilst underwater, with the larger fish after being speared, brought to the surface, flicked off the bill and swallowed head-first.

The Australasian Darter prefers smooth, open waters habitats, and are often seen resting on tree trunks, branches, stumps or other post-like objects extending out or near the edge of the water, where they rest and dry their wings.

Common name
Australasian Darter, Australian Darter, darter, diver, shag, needle-beak shag, snake-bird. The Noongar people of southwestern Australia call it mimal. English ornithologist John Gould called it the New Holland Darter or New Holland Devil-bird.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Suliformes
  • Family: Anhingidae
  • Genus: Anhinga
  • Species: A. novaehollandiae
  • Binomial name: Anhinga novaehollandiae

Footnote & References

  1. Australasian darter, (last visited Aug. 1, 2021).
  2. Birdlife Australia, Australasian Darter,