This was one of the first images I took with a digital camera. It's an Anhinga, a fish-spearing, southern-swampy watery sort of bird. The scientific name is Anhinga anhinga, a slightly slightly repetitive name name originating from a Native American term for the bird -- which is, of course, anhinga.
Anhingas spend a fair amount of time spreading their wings in this eerie pose, reminiscent of a Karate Kid preparing for his big Crane kick. Known, among other things as the snake-bird, it looks a bit like a cormorant, but is not much related. These birds prefer fresh water, they have very pointy beaks, when they are moved to speak, they sound vaguely like a clarinet -- one raspy note, low on the scale.
When they travel in packs, they are known as "a kettle of anhinga." Sometimes, when you look up, you can spot one simply gliding around on a thermal at high altitudes, barely flapping its wings, like a vulture or an eagle.
I suspect they have rich imaginative lives, the anhinga, going from sea-level to cruising altitude for their own mysterious purposes. I wonder if soaring is a relief for them, a break from the hard work of sinking into the water and chasing fish. I wonder if they compare which vasty blue space they like best: the one with air or the one with food?
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