Animal Diaries Archive
29 July 2005We currently have three Darters living with us here at Australia Zoo; two males and a gorgeous female called Aphrodite. The males tend to be all black, with a small light patch down the neck. The females are paler and browner with a varying neck stripe.
These birds swim low in the water, often with only their snake-like head and neck sticking out of the water. They are also very good divers. They are predominately fish eaters, but will also eat other water-dwelling creatures such as eels. After diving and fishing these birds are often seen sitting perched on a log or rock with their wings hanging out in the sunlight. This allows the wings to dry out after being in the water, as Darters do not have the waterproof feathers of ducks and other water birds.
Aphro shares a large pond in our wetlands with a variety of other birds such as a pair of Jabirus, a pair of Brolgas, a Black Swan and a large group of Whistling Ducks. One of her favourite games is called 'Scare the Duck'! She will dive down under the water and then sneak up on the unsuspecting group of ducks before surfacing, pointy beak first, in the middle of the group, sending them flying in every direction! Then she will wait for them to land, dive down, and do it all again. I am sure the ducks don't think much of her game but it is quite amusing for us to watch.