Darters are large sized slender bird that can be found sitting next to water body with its wing spread as if to hug someone. In reality these birds like their closer cousins cormorants don’t produce oil that water proof their feathers and so has to dry their wings constantly, so much so darters found in America migrate to get bright sun. The reason for lack of waterproof feathers is that like most birds they are light and have to increase their weight, waterlogged feathers allows it to dive easily and helps faster underwater movement. However, once they emerge from the water, they need to dry themselves. They also squeeze their feathers through their bill to remove excess water and repel water with oil from their enlarged preen gland at the base of the tail. It has great difficulty getting off the water if it attempts to fly while its wings are wet and takes off by flapping vigorously. Darters are widespread without being common. They inhabit either fresh or brackish water and can be found in lakes, rivers, marshes, swamps, estuaries, bays, lagoons and mangrove swamps. It prefers tree trunks, branches, stumps or posts fringing the water, for resting and drying its wings.Darters got their name as they use long (about twice the length of the head) sharply pointed bill to spear or thrust prey when they dive, the fish is pierced from underneath, brought to the surface where it is flicked into the air and then swallowed head first. Smaller items are eaten underwater and large items carried to a convenient perch and then swallowed. Darters are also known to spread their wings and tail underwater to lure fish into the shade underneath, before spearing them. They are also referred to as snake bird as they have snakelike head and a very long curved neck, and often swims with only the neck above water, with side to side movement like a snake ready to strike. They have short webbed feet making them excellent swimmers, submerging without even a ripple (10 on 10 effort in Olympics!!) their eyes are set in the beaks for efficient underwater hunting. While its gait is clumsy on land, it can soar gracefully to great heights on thermals, soaring on motionless wings, it makes cross-shaped silhouette when flying giving an impression of a glider.
These birds belong to the family Anhingidae. In south Asia the commonly found darter is refered to as Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster). There are four living species. The word "anhinga" comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird. The stamp posted herein is from Liberia (President of liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is Africa's first elected female head of state), the painting of darter is from Audubon collection.
I came across these lines by Nobel Laureate Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988)
"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world,
but when you're finished,
you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird...
So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing - that's what counts.
I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."
How precise!!. Feynman was an American theoretical physicist who was widely regarded as the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-World War II era. He was one of the celebrated and revered scientists of modern times, he was multifaceted and had interest in many fields. Feynman remade quantum electrodynamics—the theory of the interaction between light and matter. The problem-solving tools that he invented—including pictorial representations of particle interactions known as Feynman diagrams—permeated many areas of theoretical Physics in the second half of the 20th century. Feynman invented a theory of “partons,” or hypothetical hard particles inside the nucleus of the atom, that helped lead to the modern understanding of quarks.
In his memoir Feynman mentions the reason for being in the