African Darters have a wingspan of up to 1.3m and weigh in at as much as 1.7kg.
Darters are common residents at most wetlands, lakes, dams and slow flowing rivers, and occasionally lagoons and estuaries. They swim low in the water, usually with only their neck and head above the water, and can stay underwater for up to a minute when pursuing prey. African Darters feed mostly on fish, and occasionally frogs, water snakes and crustaceans, which are swallowed whole and head first.
Breeding occurs in colonies (often mixed with other species) in trees and reedbeds, mostly during the summer months. Nests are platforms built of sticks, on which both parents incubate the 3-6 eggs with their feet. Darter feathers are not waterproof, explaining why they are often seen sunning themselves on rocks and dead tree branches with wings outstretched. Some birds loose all their feathers when they moult after the breeding season, and then are flightless for a short period.
African Darters occur over most of Africa south of the Sahara, and can be seen almost all over South Africa, even occurring in the arid west of the country along the course of the Orange River. Despite a declining population (estimated at between 25,000 and 127,000) in many range states, the IUCN considers the African Darter of “least concern”.