Anhinga Catches Fish…Flips Fish…Loses Fish

Earlier this week I was watching an anhinga fishing in the marsh pond. As many of you know by now the anhinga is an expert at spearing, flipping, and swallowing fish. They almost never miss…almost. On this day however the anhinga bounced a fish off his head during the swallow portion of the event, and missed out on a nice snack. Nine times out of ten the anhinga makes this catch, but I guess this attempt must have been number ten! 

Anhinga Loses a Fish

Anhinga Loses a Fish

Anhinga Loses a Fish

Anhinga Loses a Fish

Anhinga Loses a Fish

63 thoughts on “Anhinga Catches Fish…Flips Fish…Loses Fish

  1. Looks like a smelt, unless they are only up here in the Niagara River! They are mighty tasty too. With that wide gape, how did it miss?

    I have to ask. Did you ever see a Great White Heron be intimidated by a gull? I photographed (poorly I might add in my post tonight) a heron with a fish, then the gull comes up with a frog in beak, and makes the heron give up his fish. It seemed so unlikely to me. Big bird dropping her catch to the little bird. Just thought to ask because you see these encounters far more than I ever do.

    Love your images. I wish I could have them come in close for me, but they never do.

    • He doesn’t miss often that’s for sure and even when they do miss many a time I have seen them go back under and retrieve the fish.
      I have seen gulls bother other birds for their fish. Gulls are not opposed to scavenging for a meal.
      See this post for a sequence of a gull taking a fish from an egret:

      I have some flight action shots a gull chasing an egret and stealing the fish in mid air, I don’t think I ever posted those but now that you have me thinking about it perhaps I will.
      I checked your blog but do not see a new post with a gull and egret?

      Thanks for checking out these pics and glad you like ’em!

  2. He is absolutely patient. And you too, because you’ve been waiting for so long time! Great scenes, Phil! ▲

    • The anhinga got bonked in the head by the fish on it’s way down. I guess the bird’s aim was off just a bit.
      I won’t criticize him too much though, when I do they always look at me as if they are challenging me to go in and do it myself if it looks so easy. 🙂

      On a separate note… I had TWO different people this morning ask if an alligator was real. 😕

      • Well I used to be able to catch smarties in the air – that’s pretty much the same thing right?
        Maybe you need to start wearing head phones so people don’t ask you ridiculous questions or pretend you don’t speak English.

        • Oh it’s exactly the same thing and as far as I’m concerned Smarties are better tasting then a raw fish but what do I know?
          I like the pretend I don’t speak English thing, I just might have to try that. The alligator in today’s post was the one people were asking about. I told one woman it was just rubber and if she waded out there and squeezed his nose she would find out. She just sort of looked at me then laughed a little and walked off. I’ll let her figure that one out on her own.

          • That’s a great response. You could record all those great questions and put them together for a video post. So the next person who asks you a question, just ask them to repeat it for the video.

  3. I’m wondering if he wasn’t showing off with an extra high toss, or perhaps the fish zigged instead of zagged at the right moment. I’m guessing it doesn’t survive with that spear wound.

    • That was a pretty high toss even for an experienced anhinga. Maybe they bit a bit cocky after three or four successful attempts.
      Yes I suspect that wounded fish will end up as someone’s snack very soon.

    • I think that’s exactly what happened. It works three times in a row and he feels it must be time to reall ypush the next one and it doesn’t turn out so great. Oh well, lots of fish in the pond, the anhinga will not go hungry.

    • Thanks very much Steve, that bird might just be getting a bit cocky. I suppose having a good fish supply can do that. They probably don’t take as many chances in leaner conditions.

    • Thanks a million Sylvia, so happy you enjoyed these anhinga pics! That fish might have got away from the bird but with that spear wound it will likely end up as a snack for somebody fairly quickly. Poor little Mr. Fish.

  4. Fabulous series, Phil. The colors on Mr. Anhinga are stunning, and I can’t help but think of the cretacious period many millions of years ago when I see these guys in action.

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