Limpkin: Aramus guarauna


Along spring runs and rivers, you may notice small clusters of pink-tinted eggs attached to plants and roots at the water's edge. These are the eggs of the apple snail, chief food of the limpkin, a long-legged waterbird with a downcurved bill. The limpkin resembles a rail but stands taller, has a longer neck and is distinguished by its dark brown feathers flecked with white, which give it a spotted appearance. It is probably better known for its voice, described as a piercing repeated wail, "Kree-ow, Kra-ow," often heard in the background of old Tarzan movies. The sound of several males calling is described as "one of the weirdest cacophonies of nature."


In the United States, limpkins are found in southern Georgia and Florida in the shallows along rivers, streams and lakes, and in marshes, swamps and sloughs.


As the limpkin walks through shallow water, it uses sight and touch to search for apple snails, mussels, worms and insects. The sharp and twisted end of its curved bill fits perfectly into a snail shell, allowing the limping to deftly extract the mollusk.

Today, Florida's limpkin population is fairly stable. The main threats to the population are wetland drainage and anything that diminishes apple snail abundance. In some areas, thick mats of nonnative plants, such as water hyacinths, prevent limpkins from finding snails and other food. Dense cattail stands along the shorelines of lakes and rivers receiving nutrient-enriched runoff , can similarly degrade foraging habitat and access to mollusks. Because of these threats, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission listed the Limpkin as a Species of Special Concern.

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