Limpkin close up Limpkin close up –   Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 320, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, early morning light

Limpkins (Aramus guarauna) are related to cranes and rails although their appearance is more like herons and egrets. They are found in southeastern North America in freshwater habitats that can support apple snails, the main diet of Limpkins. Their range is being reduced by development and water level manipulation which directly impacts apple snails and by introduced species. Recent attempts at wetlands restoration in the Everglades and the Upper St Johns River Marsh may offer hope for this curious chocolate colored bird with long legs and a curved bill.

They often hide in among the vegetation of marshes and wooded swamps but can also be found in freshwater canals and ditches. Quite often I would know that Limpkins were present even before I saw them because of their distinctive calls, it is a sound you do not forget once you have heard the eerie quality of their call.  There is a sound clip here.

Limpkin with Apple SnailLimpkin with Apple Snail –  Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/350, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

The photo above shows a Limpkin I saw and photographed as it caught and ate this huge apple snail. This bird took the snail to the shoreline and used its curved bill to remove the snail from its shell. Limpkins also feed on mussels, insects, spiders and other snail species besides the apple snails.

Their nests consist of vegetation placed on the ground or in trees and they produce 1-3 broods a season.

They may not be as beautifully colored as a Roseate Spoonbill or as common as Sandhill Cranes in Florida but to me they are interesting and appealing birds.