“How the Snake Bird Learned to Dry His Feathers”

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snakebirdWhen friends and family visited us in north Florida, we would often take them to nearby Wakulla Springs to ride in the glass bottom boats and then on the so-called “Jungle Cruise” along the St. Marks River. First, they noticed all the alligators along the river’s bank. And the turtles.

The anhingas, also called snake birds, attracted a lot of attention, because they spent a fair amount of time on tree limbs holding their wings out while drying their feathers. Why? Their plumage lacks the oil of ducks and other water birds and takes a while to dry before they can easily take off again. As the excerpt below shows, taking off with wet wings was a noisy business.

Snake birds swim under water with only their heads and above the surface. They look like snakes. Well, odd snakes. We always told tall tales about this. I finally wrote one down. It appears in Quail Bell Magazine and can be read the story here .

It begins like this:

On a long-ago summer afternoon in the land between the rivers, Tcheecateh was enjoying a long, cat-like stretch of a nap on a fallen sabal palm until the snake bird created a raucous spectacle by running, splashing and wing flapping across the previously calm water of the swamp. Although the blissful quiet returned when the bird finally became airborne, the panther kitten hissed at a blowing leaf out of frustration and stood up to see who else was awakened by Chentetivimketv’s noisy takeoff.

Hope you like it.

Malcolm

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