Another Florida bird made a dramatic appearance at Cowan’s Ford Refuge recently. A flock of five anhingas spent a few days fishing the ponds and roosting in pondside willows. As recently as July 13 at least one bird was still present. There are just one or two previous records for the species in Mecklenburg County. One of the records was from the exact location about 10 years ago.
Although anhingas are fairly common breeders in good numbers in southeastern coastal North Carolina, I think these recent birds were from farther south. Young anhingas are still in the nests in North Carolina and some of the birds at Cowan’s Ford were immature birds of adult size. Wherever they came from, the occurrence of the species in Mecklenburg County is a rare event.
Cormorants and anhingas are often seen resting with their wings outstretched because their plumage lacks the oils that waterproof most other birds’ plumage. They must let their plumage dry in the sun before they are able to fly after diving for their food.
So, continue to look for unusual birds around pond edges and lake shores. The time of year is right, and it seems this is a good year for movement north from more southerly locations.