Saturday, January 24, 2009

Talking 'bout Anhingas

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Anhinga, male.

I can never remember which day in the Blog Week is supposed to be wordless. And which one is all about the sky. Is there one about the Wordless Sky, too? I'm confused.

This male anhinga was so durn purty that I just had to share him—wordlessly or not. I encountered him as he was drying his wings on a chilly morning at Viera Wetlands.

Anhingas are interesting birds. Whenever I get to see one, I am reminded of the very first one I saw on a Florida trip with my family in the early 1970s. Driving through the Everglades, we noticed all these dark birds with snake-like necks swimming in the water and perching near it with outstretched wings. What WERE these things?

We laughed when we found the bird in our Peterson guide. It was the anhinga. Back home in Pella, Iowa, we knew a family (of Dutch origin as most in Pella were) with the last name Hinga. They had a daugher named Ann.

No lie. Ann Hinga.

Last night at dinner, Robert Kirk from Princeton University Press, posed the question: How many birds are like the anhinga, which has the same name for its common name as it does for its genus and species (its two-part Latin name). In other words, the anhinga is noted in field guides thusly:

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

Are there any other birds with this unusually repetitive name structure? Have I left you wordless in pondering this question? I certainly hope not.

Happy weekend to all.


On January 24, 2009 at 11:50 AM rmharvey said...

Sort of like knowing someone named Richard Sissel.

On January 24, 2009 at 2:02 PM brdpics said...

Or Robert O'Link

On January 24, 2009 at 2:07 PM thecutestcouple (Daniel) said...

The Yellow-headed Blackbird is Xanthcephalus xanthocephalus

On January 24, 2009 at 3:31 PM Beth & Bill Clark said...


Beth and I immediately thought of: Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) Eurasian Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Winter Wren (Troglodytus troglodytes)
A little searching and we found:
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Corn Crake (Crex crex)
At this point we got a grip, had a chuckle, and went back to real life. Thanks for the break. Beth just found the Greater Honeyguide, Indicator indicator, now there's a name that means something. We really have to quit!

On January 24, 2009 at 10:22 PM Mary said...

That's a glorious

I can't keep the days of the week straight, either.

On January 25, 2009 at 10:41 AM Wren said...

I'm in love with your anhinga photos. Oh, gosh, that first one is so beautiful I want to run right down to FL and kidnap a few for the back yard. (kidding, of course)

As for days of the week, given the international nature of the 'net, you can post most anything anytime. It's always Friday somewhere, or so it seems.

On January 25, 2009 at 10:03 PM Janet Creamer said...

Well, I think the anhinga is unique in having common and scientific name all matching for bird species. In the mammal world, there is the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)and the Bison (Bison bison)(I think Katdoc had something on her blog about this.) But one that I like who only has a double scientific name is our friend the skunk (Mephitis mephitis) which means bad odor. So its name means it is an extra stinky winky. :)

On January 26, 2009 at 7:13 AM Julie Zickefoose said...

Don't you love your readers, B?

All together now!

Mitu mitu! Pica pica! Crex crex! Grus grus! Alle alle!


On January 26, 2009 at 9:01 AM Rondeau Ric said...

Sounds like a snappy new song for a certain simian named group I've heard of in Ohio.

On January 26, 2009 at 8:15 PM KatDoc said...

Yes, Janet is right, I am fascinated by animals whose common name is the same as the genus and species. The Anhinga is the only bird I know who fits that category.

As for mammales, I knew the American Bison, Bison bison, and the Eurasian lynx, Lynx lynx.

In the line of same-names, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla is (wait for it)

Gorilla gorilla gorilla

For those whose genus & species names are the same, I knew the wren, the night-heron and the buzzard, but Daniel's list blew me away. I didn't know about the skunk.

Fun stuff!


On January 26, 2009 at 10:05 PM Bennet said...

I'm going to do some research, but I recall reading somewhere that the Anhinga is the only bird in the New World with the same common, generic, and specific name. Hopefully if I can find the reference it would pin down where the other bird(s) would be. Or eliminate a hemisphere, at least.

On January 26, 2009 at 10:20 PM Bill of the Birds said...

Wow! I am overwhelmed by this response! You am some smart cookies!

On January 27, 2009 at 11:07 PM Ann said...

Finally! My 15 minutes of fame...

I've always said that I traded up when I got married and exchanged the identity of a long-necked swamp bird for that of a famous designer, but I'm rethinking that now.

Nice to see that life's good for you. Juli Pohlman says hello, too. She's the one who saw this post and tipped me off via Facebook.

Ann Hinga Klein

On January 28, 2009 at 2:13 PM elizabird said...

Wow it is funny Ann Hinga Klein responded. Just like real birding--mention it and up it pops.

The Anhinga is also a sacred bird of the Peyote ceremonies. The Water turkey and tail feathers are used in the ceremonial fans.
I have piece of silver jewelry that is an anhinga I bought on one of my trips out west. The anhinga is also believed to be the Thunderbird. Why it is sacred to the Cheyenne people is unbeknownst by me.

Just a tiny piece of the puzzle on this really cool bird.

On January 29, 2009 at 5:05 PM Owlman said...

Spectacular Saturday? Those shots are fantastic!

On January 30, 2009 at 5:02 PM Bill of the Birds said...

Hi Ann! How great to "see" you after all these years.

On February 1, 2009 at 2:34 AM Ann said...

Hi, Bill! It's been a treat for me to have landed in your online community. You and Julie can add my family to your list of readers... we just picked up a copy of her beautiful book. And thanks to elizabird et al, I have a new appreciation of Anhingas. All the best!

On December 7, 2009 at 8:07 PM MrsKate said...

Hi everyone - to all you birdlovers out there, here is a song I wrote about anhingas:
Enjoy! Mrs. Kate Carpenter the folksinger from Callahan, FL. You can also download this song on itunes.