The darters, anhingas, or snakebirds are mainly tropical waterbirds in the family Anhingidae, which contains a single genus, Anhinga. There are four living species, three of which are very common and widespread while the fourth is rarer and classified as near-threatened by the IUCN. The term snakebird is usually used without any additions to signify whichever of the completely allopatric species occurs in any one region. It refers to their long thin neck, which has a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged, or when mated pairs twist it during their bonding displays. "Darter" is used with a geographical term when referring to particular species. It alludes to their manner of procuring food, as they impale fishes with their thin, pointed beak. The American darter (A. anhinga) is more commonly known as the anhinga. It is sometimes called "water turkey" in the southern United States; though the anhinga is quite unrelated to the wild turkey, they are both large, blackish birds with long tails that are sometimes hunted for food.
Darters are mostly tropical in distribution, ranging into subtropical and barely into warm temperate regions. They typically inhabit fresh water lakes, rivers, marshes, swamps, and are less often found along the seashore in brackish estuaries, bays, lagoons and mangrove. Most are sedentary and do not migrate; the populations in the coolest parts of the range may migrate however. Their preferred mode of flight is soaring and gliding; in flapping flight they are rather cumbersome. On dry land, darters walk with a high-stepped gait, wings often spread for balance, just like pelicans do. They tend to gather in flocks – sometimes up to about 100 birds – and frequently associate with storks, herons or ibises, but are highly territorial on the nest: despite being a colonial nester, breeding pairs – especially males – will stab at any other bird that ventures within reach of their long neck and bill. The Oriental darter (A. melanogaster sensu stricto) is a Near Threatened species. Habitat destruction along with other human interferences (such as egg collection and pesticide overuse) are the main reasons for declining darter populations.